Article details

Research area
Natural language & AI

Artificial Intelligence Volume 8, Issue 2, April 1977, Pages 155–173


Daniel G. Bobrow, Martin Kay, Donald A. Norman, Henry Thompson, Terry Winograd

GUS, a frame-driven dialog system


GUS is the first of a series of experimental computer systems that we intend to construct as part of a program of research on language understanding. In large measure, these systems will fill the role of periodic progress reports, summarizing what we have learned, assessing the mutual coherence of the various lines of investigation we have been following, and suggesting where more emphasis is needed in future work. GUS (Genial Understander System) is intended to engage a sympathetic and highly cooperative human in an English dialog, directed towards a specific goal within a very restricted domain of discourse. As a starting point, GUS was restricted to the role of a travel agent in a conversation with a client who wants to make a simple return trip to a single city in California.

There is good reason for restricting the domain of discourse for a computer system which is to engage in an English dialog. Specializing the subject matter that the system can talk about permits it to achieve some measure of realism without encompassing all the possibilities of human knowledge or of the English language. It also provides the user with specific motivation for participating in the conversation, thus narrowing the range of expectations that GUS must have about the user’s purposes. A system restricted in this way will be more able to guide the conversation within the boundaries of its competence.

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