Automating reading comprehension by generating question and answer pairs

Vishwajeet Kumar, Kireeti Boorla, Yogesh Meena, Ganesh Ramakrishnan, Yuan Fang Li

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference PaperResearchpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Neural network-based methods represent the state-of-the-art in question generation from text. Existing work focuses on generating only questions from text without concerning itself with answer generation. Moreover, our analysis shows that handling rare words and generating the most appropriate question given a candidate answer are still challenges facing existing approaches. We present a novel two-stage process to generate question-answer pairs from the text. For the first stage, we present alternatives for encoding the span of the pivotal answer in the sentence using Pointer Networks. In our second stage, we employ sequence to sequence models for question generation, enhanced with rich linguistic features. Finally, global attention and answer encoding are used for generating the question most relevant to the answer. We motivate and linguistically analyze the role of each component in our framework and consider compositions of these. This analysis is supported by extensive experimental evaluations. Using standard evaluation metrics as well as human evaluations, our experimental results validate the significant improvement in the quality of questions generated by our framework over the state-of-the-art. The technique presented here represents another step towards more automated reading comprehension assessment. We also present a live system (Demo of the system is available at to demonstrate the effectiveness of our approach.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdvances in Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining
Subtitle of host publication22nd Pacific-Asia Conference, PAKDD 2018 Melbourne, VIC, Australia, June 3–6, 2018 Proceedings, Part III
EditorsDinh Phung, Vincent S. Tseng, Geoffrey I. Webb, Bao Ho, Mohadeseh Ganji, Lida Rashidi
Place of PublicationCham Switzerland
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9783319930404
ISBN (Print)9783319930398
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventPacific-Asia Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining 2018 - Grand Hyatt, Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 3 Jun 20186 Jun 2018
Conference number: 22nd

Publication series

NameLecture Notes in Computer Science
ISSN (Print)0302-9743
ISSN (Electronic)1611-3349


ConferencePacific-Asia Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining 2018
Abbreviated titlePAKDD 2018
Internet address


  • Pointer network
  • Question generation
  • Sequence to sequence modeling

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