ple tense (past, present, future), aspect (indefinite, complete, continuing, etc.), logical quantifiers (every, one, none), non-logical quantifiers (many, most, some, few, etc.), multi-sentence discourse,
modalities, beliefs, generics, anaphora, speech acts, meronymy, synonymy, hyponymy, polysemy, and others.
Secondly, the notion of user-friendliness must be addressed more
precisely. While no evaluation methodology has yet been determined,
several options are being considered. One option is users evaluation,
where a selection of computer scientists would become users, and
would be asked to formulate a number of meanings. Time taken to formulate a response, its accuracy with respect to the intended meaning,
and general user observations would all become evaluation criteria.
The task could also proceed in reverse: users would be given a semantic expression and asked to summarize its meaning using natural language. Again, time, accuracy, and user observations would become
evaluation criteria. Another option is a study involving expression of
complex narratives, where the number of semantic primitives introduced is used to measure complexity. Too many primitives make a
cumbersome formalism; the extreme case being a primitive for each
completion. Too few primitives would also exert a negative effect by
adding a layer of notational complexity for complex phenomena and
possibly impacting expressiveness. Here, the ratio of completions to
primitives would provide insight into user-friendliness. Regardless of
the evaluation methodology, a clear and precise metric is needed.
Finally, since our goal is to map this formalism onto a full generation environment, the actual process of transforming semantic
expressions into natural language utterances must also be explored.
No current system is truly user-friendly. While first order logic and
Montague’s intensional logic are being used to express a number of
linguistic phenomena, they do so at the expense of creating complexity for the user. Unfortunately, this complexity continues to grow
as more complex linguistic phenomena are explored.
This paper explored the form of a new system of semantic representation which has considerable expressive power, while maintaining a more
intuitive form to its users. While many feel a formalism’s expressive power is more important than user friendliness, developing an intuitive formalism could lead to wide-spread use in natural language generation tasks
and possibly even to the larger natural language processing community.
Indeed, to verify any automated task, a human being must be
present to review and interpret any semantic intermediate form created during the debugging process. Simply put, the simpler the
semantic form becomes, the easier the verification process will be. In
terms of natural language generation, this formalism coupled with a
natural language system such as VINCI [ 13] could develop into a new
and simple way of providing a wide range of users the ability to generate multi-language utterances with a minimal amount of effort.
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Craig Thomas ( email@example.com) is a PhD candidate in the Computational Linguistics Laboratory in the School of Computing at
Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. This research was
conducted with funding assistance from the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada.