Open-Domain Question Answering with Pre-Constructed Question Spaces


Published June 11, 2021

Jinfeng Xiao, Lidan Wang, Franck Dernoncourt, Trung Bui, Tong Sun, Jiawei Han

Open-domain question answering aims at locating the answers to user-generated questions in massive collections of documents. Retriever-readers and knowledge graph approaches are two big families of solutions to this task. A retriever-reader first applies information retrieval techniques to locate a few passages that are likely to be relevant, and then feeds the retrieved text to a neural network reader to extract the answer. Alternatively, knowledge graphs can be constructed and queried to answer users' questions. We propose an algorithm with a novel reader-retriever design that differs from both families. Our reader-retriever first uses an offline reader to read the corpus and generate collections of all answerable questions associated with their answers, and then uses an online retriever to respond to user queries by searching the pre-constructed question spaces for answers that are most likely to be asked in the given way. We further combine one retriever-reader and two reader-retrievers into a hybrid model called R6 for the best performance. Experiments with two large-scale public datasets show that R6 achieves state-of-the-art accuracy.