Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.S. in Engineering Science


Computer and Information Science

First Advisor

Naeemul Hassan

Second Advisor

Yixin Chen

Third Advisor

Dawn Wilkins

Relational Format



Question-Answer systems traditionally use expensive and difficult to produce structured knowledge bases. Recent systems have used unstructured natural language sources as their datasets, but most of those sources have been overly broad or difficult to extend. Online forums are a largely untapped source of information that can provide both depth and breadth when limited to a specific domain, as well as being adaptive to the introduction of new information. In this paper, I conjecture that online forums can be similarly and effectively used as an unstructured knowledge base for Question-Answer systems. I use a relatively simple summarization-based approach to analyze the effectiveness of answering questions about history using well-known and popular online forums. The results of the experiment are moderately negative, though further research may need to be performed to determine whether this is a result of the model architecture, the



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