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Developer(s) Ultralingua Inc.; Semantica Software S.A
Type API
License Proprietary
Website www.ultralingua.com

Distinguo is a proprietary software application for Semantic search based on description logic that enables users to search for meaning instead of just keywords.[1] This API permits developers to integrate into their applications a tool to parse natural language (generating an XML summary), and then measure the semantic "distance" between a query and a target text. Guha et al.[2] distinguish two major forms of search: Navigational and Research. In navigational search, the user is using the search engine as a navigation tool to navigate to a particular intended document. Semantic Search is not directly applicable to navigational searches. In Research Search, the user enters a phrase which is intended to denote the object of the research. The user will not know in advance which particular documents will contain the information; the task is to locate any number of documents which together will produce the sought information.


The program is not available as a stand-alone or consumer application; it is a powerful software component for inclusion in other text analysis solutions such as any project requiring the comparison of meanings or the measurement of the difference between words and longer texts. Users can compare a simple query to a large database of texts, locating texts containing similar meanings and ranking them according to their similarity.


In addition to measuring the similarity between words, sentences, or texts written in natural language, semantic searching can also distill the meanings of a set of texts and then provide comparative information about those meanings. Users enter a word or phrase which represents a subject for which similar related information is required. Possible typical applications would be for comparing reports, minutes of meetings, insurance claims, medical histories, research papers, and legal decisions from many court cases.


Distinguo is a C++ Application Programming Interface (API), in two different applications:

Distinguo Index: a tool for expanding search keywords to include inflected forms, synonyms, hypernyms, hyponyms, and other words related by meaning.

Distinguo Context: a tool for analyzing the meaning of full sentences or even of full texts; it can then match this text with other texts containing the same or similar ideas.

They are delivered for integration into other solutions. Distinguo tools are supplied as C++ libraries, and can be integrated into software solutions for its own features, or to supplement or refine statistical search methods.

The result of the syntactic analysis, as well as the format of the ontologies, is represented in XML. The calculation of semantic similarities may be in the form of a numerical coefficient, or an ontology showing the information present in the first ontology and missing in the second. The format of the texts and of the XML is a string of characters in the programming language 'C'.


Distinguo Index and Distinguo Context are based on algorithms for the parsing of language and the matching and ranking semantic results developed by Semantica Software of Luxembourg in association with Ultralingua and is in constant further research and development. Other uses could be integrated into electronic dictionary or phrasebook applications.

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