Abstract

We present MCTest, a freely available set of stories and associated questions intended for research on the machine comprehension of text. Previous work on machine comprehension (e.g., semantic modeling) has made great strides, but primarily focuses either on limited-domain datasets, or on solving a more restricted goal (e.g., open-domain relation extraction). In contrast, MCTest requires machines to answer multiple-choice reading comprehension questions about fictional stories, directly tackling the high-level goal of open-domain machine comprehension. Reading comprehension can test advanced abilities such as causal reasoning and understanding the world, yet, by being multiple-choice, still provide a clear metric. By being fictional, the answer typically can be found only in the story itself. The stories and questions are also carefully limited to those a young child would understand, reducing the world knowledge that is required for the task. We present the scalable crowd-sourcing methods that allow us to cheaply construct a dataset of 500 stories and 2000 questions. By screening workers (with grammar tests) and stories (with grading), we have ensured that the data is the same quality as another set that we manually edited, but at one tenth the editing cost. By being open-domain, yet carefully restricted, we hope MCTest will serve to encourage research and provide a clear metric for advancement on the machine comprehension of text.

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