Automated User-Centered Reasoning and Acquisition System (AURA) | SRI International
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Automated User-Centered Reasoning and Acquisition System (AURA)

SRI is developing a system that uses artificial intelligence to answer questions and solve problems in a range of scientific disciplines.

Through its Project Halo program, Vulcan Inc. is funding SRI for the development of a "Digital Aristotle" — a computerized system that can understand and reason about problems in a range of scientific disciplines, and explains its knowledge in a user- and domain-appropriate manner. The project focuses on creating two primary functions: a tutor capable of instructing and assessing students, and a research assistant with interdisciplinary skills to help scientists and educators.

The current focus in the project is to develop Inquire Biology, an electronic enhancement to Campbell Biology that is capable of answering questions. The Campbell Biology is a popular biology textbook used at the high school and introductory college level. Inquire biology provides active reading and homework support to students with the goal of enhancing learning and engagement.

The Inquire Biology answers student’s questions using reasoning over a knowledge base created from Campbell Biology. The knowledge base is authored by a team of biologists under the supervision of biology teachers.  The biologists use an authoring environment called Automated User-Centered Reasoning and Acquisition System (AURA). AURA is a product of an earlier phase of Project Halo that focused on putting sophisticated knowledge representation and reasoning technology in the hands of domain experts.

In the context of Inquire Biology and AURA systems, the project is addressing several technically challenging research problems in the following sub-areas of artificial intelligence: knowledge representation and reasoning, ontologies, knowledge acquisition, deductive reasoning, natural language understanding and natural language generation. SRI uses human computer interaction methods to package these advanced technologies into functional and usable prototypes such as Inquire and AURA.

The Inquire and AURA systems are licensed and distributed by Vulcan Inc. For more information on obtaining a license and a copy of the software, contact markg [at] (Mark Greaves.)