Turkish Journal of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences




Word algebra problems are among challenging AI tasks as they combine natural language understanding with a formal equation system. Traditional approaches to the problem work with equation templates and frame the task as a template selection and number assignment to the selected template. The recent deep learning-based solutions exploit contextual language models like BERT and encode the natural language text to decode the corresponding equation system. The proposed approach is similar to the template-based methods as it works with a template and fills in the number slots. Nevertheless, it has contextual understanding because it adopts a question generation and answering pipeline to create tuples of numbers, to finally perform the number assignment task by custom sets of rules. The inspiring idea is that by asking the right questions and answering them using a state-of-the-art language model-based system, one can learn the correct values for the number slots in an equation system. The empirical results show that the proposed approach outperforms the other methods significantly on the word algebra benchmark dataset alg514 and performs the second best on the AI2 corpus for arithmetic word problems. It also has superior performance on the challenging SVAMP dataset. Though it is a rule-based system, simple rule sets and relatively slight differences between rules for different templates indicate that it is highly probable to develop a system that can learn the patterns for the collection of all possible templates, and produce the correct equations for an example instance.


Math problem solver, question generation and answering, algebraic word problems

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