Accession Number : ADA114500

Title :   Coping with Syntactic Ambiguity or How to Put the Block in the Box on the Table.

Descriptive Note : Memorandum rept.,

Corporate Author : MASSACHUSETTS INST OF TECH CAMBRIDGE LAB FOR COMPUTER SCIENCE

Personal Author(s) : Church,Kenneth ; Patil,Ramesh

PDF Url : ADA114500

Report Date : Apr 1982

Pagination or Media Count : 40

Abstract : Sentences are far more ambiguous than one might have thought. There may be hundreds, perhaps thousands of syntactic parse trees for certain very natural sentences of English. This fact has been a major problem confronting natural language processing because it indicated that it may require a long time to construct a list of all the parse trees, and furthermore, it isn't clear what to do with the list once it has been constructed. This list may be so numerous that it is probably not the most convenient representation for communication with the semantic and pragmatic processing modules. In this paper we propose some methods for dealing with syntactic ambiguity in ways that take advantage of certain regularities among the alternative parse trees. These regularities will be expressed as linear combinations of ATN networks, and also as sums and products of formal power series. We will suggest some ways that practical processor can take advantage of this modularity in order to deal more efficiently with combinatoric ambiguity. In particular, we will show how a processor can efficiently compute the ambiguity of an input sentence (or any portion therof). Furthermore, we will show how to compile certain grammers into a form that can be processed more efficiently. In some cases, including the every way ambiguous grammar (e.g., conjuction, prepositional phrases, noun-noun modification), processing time will be reduced from 0 (n superscript 3) to 0 (n). Finally, we will show how to uncompile certain highly optimized grammars into a form suitable for linguistic analysis. (Author)

Descriptors :   *Natural language, Linguistics, Syntax, Probability, Power series

Subject Categories : Linguistics

Distribution Statement : APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE