A Web-Based Agent Challenges Human Experts on Crosswords

  • Marco Ernandes Università di Siena
  • Giovanni Angelini QuestIT
  • Marco Gori Università di Siena


Crosswords are very popular and represent a useful domain of investigation for modern artificial intelligence. In contrast to solving other celebrated games (such as chess), cracking crosswords requires a paradigm shift towards the ability to handle tasks for which humans require extensive semantic knowledge. This article introduces WebCrow, an automatic crossword solver in which the needed knowledge is mined from the web: clues are solved primarily by accessing the web through search engines and applying natural language processing techniques. In competitions at the European Conference on Artificial Intelligence (ECAI) in 2006 and other conferences this web-based approach enabled WebCrow to outperform its human challengers. Just as chess was once called “the Drosophila of artificial intelligence,” we believe that crossword systems can be useful Drosophila of web-based agents.

Author Biographies

Giovanni Angelini, QuestIT
Marco Gori, Università di Siena
Department of Computer Science Professor
How to Cite
Ernandes, M., Angelini, G., & Gori, M. (2008). A Web-Based Agent Challenges Human Experts on Crosswords. AI Magazine, 29(1), 77. https://doi.org/10.1609/aimag.v29i1.2088