FAQ FINDER is built on four assumptions about FAQ files: (1) QA format: all the information in a FAQ file is organized in QA format (Kulyukin, Hammond, and Burke 1996); (2) locality of information: all the information needed to determine the relevance of a QA pair can be found within the QA pair; (3) question relevance: the question half of the QA pair is the most relevant for determining the match to a user's question; (4) general knowledge: broad, shallow knowledge of language is sufficient for question matching.
When a FAQ file is chosen, the system iterates through the QA pairs in the file, comparing each against the user's question and computing a score.
Each question from the FAQ file is matched against the user's question and scored.
For example, because the consumer credit FAQ file is full of questions about credit reports and debts, it is important that the system identify the relation between ex-spouse and ex-husband.
Marker passing is performed to compare each word in the user's question with each word in the FAQ file question.
The matrix s for a user question of length n and a FAQ file question of length m is an n x m matrix representing all possible comparisons of words in the two questions:
For example, we have many Usenet FAQ files
, which are not only there for their immediate usefulness but also as examples of the sort of cooperative, evolving resource that is unique to the Internet.