Most recent question answering (QA) systems query large-scale knowledge bases (KBs) to answer a question, after parsing and transforming natural language questions to KBs-executable forms (e.g., logical forms). As a well-known fact, KBs are far from complete, so that information required to answer questions may not always exist in KBs. In this paper, we develop a new QA system that mines answers directly from the Web, and meanwhile employs KBs as a significant auxiliary to further boost the QA performance.

Specifically, to the best of our knowledge, we make the first attempt to link answer candidates to entities in Freebase, during answer candidate generation. Several remarkable advantages follow: (1) Redundancy among answer candidates is automatically reduced. (2) The types of an answer candidate can be effortlessly determined by those of its corresponding entity in Freebase. (3) Capitalizing on the rich information about entities in Freebase, we can develop semantic features for each answer candidate after linking them to Freebase. Particularly, we construct answer-type related features with two novel probabilistic models, which directly evaluate the appropriateness of an answer candidate’s types under a given question. Overall, such semantic features turn out to play significant roles in determining the true answers from the large answer candidate pool. The experimental results show that across two testing datasets, our QA system achieves an 18% ∼ 54% improvement under F1 metric, compared with various existing QA systems.