Beyond Factoid QA: Effective Methods for Non-factoid Answer Sentence Retrieval


Retrieving finer grained text units such as passages or sentences as answers for non-factoid Web queries is becoming increasingly important for applications such as mobile Web search. In this work, we introduce the answer sentence retrieval task for non-factoid Web queries, and investigate how this task can be effectively solved under a learning to rank framework. We design two types of features, namely semantic and context features, beyond traditional text matching features. We compare learning to rank methods with multiple baseline methods including query likelihood and the state-of-the-art convolutional neural network based method, using an answer-annotated version of the TREC GOV2 collection. Results show that features used previously to retrieve topical sentences and factoid answer sentences are not sufficient for retrieving answer sentences for non-factoid queries, but with semantic and context features, we can significantly outperform the baseline methods.

ECIR'16 Proceedings of the 38th European Conference on Information Retrieval