NL4Opt: Formulating Optimization Problems Based on Their Natural Language Descriptions

Rindranirina Ramamonjison · Timothy Yu · Giuseppe Carenini · Bissan Ghaddar · Raymond Li · Shiqi He · Haley Li · Amin Banitalebi-Dehkordi · Zirui Zhou · Yong Zhang



We propose a competition for extracting the meaning and formulation of an optimization problem based on its text description. For this competition, we have created the first dataset of linear programming (LP) word problems. A deep understanding of the problem description is an important first step towards generating the problem formulation. Therefore, we present two challenging sub-tasks for the participants. For the first sub-task, the goal is to recognize and label the semantic entities that correspond to the components of the optimization problem. For the second sub-task, the goal is to generate a meaning representation (i.e. a logical form) of the problem from its description and its problem entities. This intermediate representation of an LP problem will be converted to a canonical form for evaluation. The proposed task will be attractive because of its compelling application, the low-barrier to entry of the first sub-task, and the new set of challenges the second sub-task brings to semantic analysis and evaluation. The goal of this competition is to increase the access and usability of optimization solvers, allowing non-experts to solve important problems from various industries. In addition, this new task will promote the development of novel machine learning applications and datasets for operations research.