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Word Sense Discovery and Disambiguation

TitleWord Sense Discovery and Disambiguation
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication2005
AuthorsLindén K
UniversityUniversity of Helsinki
Thesis TypePhD
ISBN NumberISBN:952-10-2472-0
Keywordscontext, evaluation, word sense disambiguation, word sense discovery, word senses

The work is based on the assumption that words with similar syntactic usage have similar meaning, which was proposed by Zellig S. Harris (1954,1968). We study his assumption from two aspects: Firstly, different meanings (word senses) of a word should manifest themselves in different usages (contexts), and secondly, similar usages (contexts) should lead to similar meanings (word senses).

If we start with the different meanings of a word, we should be able to find distinct contexts for the meanings in text corpora. We separate the meanings by grouping and labeling contexts in an unsupervised or weakly supervised manner (Publication 1, 2 and 3). We are confronted with the question of how best to represent contexts in order to induce effective classifiers of contexts, because differences in context are the only means we have to separate word senses.

If we start with words in similar contexts, we should be able to discover similarities in meaning. We can do this monolingually or multilingually. In the monolingual material, we find synonyms and other related words in an unsupervised way (Publication 4). In the multilingual material, we ?nd translations by supervised learning of transliterations (Publication 5). In both the monolingual and multilingual case, we first discover words with similar contexts, i.e., synonym or translation lists. In the monolingual case we also aim at finding structure in the lists by discovering groups of similar words, e.g., synonym sets.

In this introduction to the publications of the thesis, we consider the larger background issues of how meaning arises, how it is quantized into word senses, and how it is modeled. We also consider how to define, collect and represent contexts. We discuss how to evaluate the trained context classi?ers and discovered word sense classifications, and ?nally we present the word sense discovery and disambiguation methods of the publications.

This work supports Harris' hypothesis by implementing three new methods modeled on his hypothesis. The methods have practical consequences for creating thesauruses and translation dictionaries, e.g., for information retrieval and machine translation purposes.