The Promise of Plain English


Jerry Potter

Department of Comuter Science

Kent State University

Kent, OH 44242


Would you like to talk to your cell phone, PDA and PC and have it answer your questions or surf the WEB?  That is what Plain English can do for you.  Plain English is different from conventional computing using C, C++, Java or VB.  Plain English uses natural language like syntax with data organized into tables with straight forward input and output (I/O).  That is, the data files look like the internal data structures. Conventional computers use algebraic formulas and abstract internal data structures such as fat trees, linked lists and stacks.  The data files are just lists of numbers and require complex I/O to read and format them.  Moreover conventional programming languages require keyboards for input – did you pass your high school keyboarding class?   Plain English only requires that you can speak (English for now, but other languages can be easily added) although you can use a keyboard too. 

            Plain English is an ongoing research program.  Plain English uses associative techniques that were developed for solving “story problems” (See  Plain English is related to ASC and ACE, programming languages that are ideal for programming massively parallel computers and clusters of associative machines for applications such as human genome matching.  A critical part of making computers understand you is to improve the voice recognition rate.  Currently, rates of 95-97% are possible, but for Plain English to be useable for your PDA, rates of 99.5% or higher will be needed.  This is one of the areas that requires more research.  With a little effort, in a few years you will be able to tell your PDA or cell phone what to do and when to do it!