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ELIZA — a computer program for the study of natural language communication between man and machine

By Joseph Weizenbaum

Communications of the ACM, Vol. 26 No. 1, Pages 23-28

ELIZA is a program operating within the MAC time-sharing system of MIT which makes certain kinds of natural language conversation between man and computer possible. Input sentences are analyzed on the basis of decomposition rules which are triggered by key words appearing in the input text. Responses are generated by reassembly rules associated with selected decomposition rules. The fundamental technical problems with which ELIZA is concerned are: (1) the identification of key words, (2) the discovery of minimal context, (3) the choice of appropriate transformations, (4) generation of responses in the absence of key words, and (5) the provision of an editing capability for ELIZA “scripts”. A discussion of some psychological issues relevant to the ELIZA approach as well as of future developments concludes the paper.

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