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Last Update: 18 September 2006
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In this project, you will use the
and reasoning system to represent the information in a text passage that
contains an "unknown" word, together with the "prior knowledge" needed
to help figure out a meaning for that word from context. You will then
run a definition algorithm on your representation to see what definition
it computes, making any necessary changes to your representation or the
algorithm in order to improve its performance. You will write up your
work in a conference-style paper, to be accompanied by copies of the
relevant computer files and annotated demos. Your grade will be a
function of the quality of both your work and your writing.
More precisely, please do the following:
If you are not familiar with SNePS, please do the SNePSUL
and/or the SNePSLOG Introduction at:
If you do the SNePSUL Tutorial, please hand in "Project 1" (which you will
find at the end of the tutorial) as soon as possible
(preferably no later than
2 weeks from today.
Familiarize yourself with the
CVA website. In particular, read the following
documents that are available
on that website:
Rapaport, William J., &
Ehrlich, Karen (2000), "A Computational Theory of
Vocabulary Acquisition", in Lucja M. Iwanska & Stuart C. Shapiro
(eds.), Natural Language Processing and Knowledge Representation:
Language for Knowledge and Knowledge for Language
(Menlo Park, CA/Cambridge, MA: AAAI Press/MIT Press): 347-375.
Rapaport, William J., &
Kibby, Michael W. (2002), "ROLE: Contextual Vocabulary Acquisition:
From Algorithm to Curriculum".
Choose a sentence containing an "unknown" (or otherwise "hard") word.
For ideas, consider:
- the CVA website's
"Words and Contexts" page,
- a new sentence containing a word that has already been
worked on, or
- a "hard" word that you have come across in your own reading.
Please get my approval of your choice before proceeding to the next
step. Please do this no later than
2 weeks from today.
Conduct an informal experiment with friends, asking them to read the
passage and to figure out the meaning of the word. (If it is a word
that you think they already know the meaning of, substitute a made-up
word or replace the word with a blank. If you do this, please also do
- Make sure that the made-up word is morphologically similar
to the real word (e.g., change a verb in the past
tense to a made-up word that looks like a past-tense
verb) and pronounceable in English. For help on doing
this, please see me.
- Emphasize to your experimental subjects that they are
not trying to guess what real word the made-up word (or the
blank word) is. Rather, they are trying to figure out what it might
mean, i.e., to come up with a dictionary-like entry for it.
- Keep a record (written or taped) of these "think-aloud"
(or "verbal") "protocols" (as they are called).
Don't give the subjects any help, but, for each proposed
definition they come up with, do ask them
why or how they came up with it; i.e., try to elicit
what information in
the text or from their prior knowledge they used to help them figure
out a meaning.
Represent the sentence containing the hard word in SNePS.
- Use the "standard" SNePS case frames for this project; lists of
these are on the CVA website's
- If necessary, you may also use or adapt "standard" SNePS
case frames from the
- For any new or modified case frame, please give its
syntax and semantics (follow the style given in the various
case-frame dictionaries above).
When you reach this point, please make an appointment with me so that
we can review your representations before you move on to the next
Decide what prior knowledge is needed for figuring out a meaning.
In general, you will need a "meaning postulate" (i.e., a necessary or
sufficient condition) for each important term in the sentence, and
various other kinds of facts or rules that provide appropriate
background knowledge, world knowledge, commonsense knowledge, domain
- Then represent this prior knowledge in SNePS, following
the directions above.
Another appointment with me, before proceeding further,
would not be inappropriate at this time.
Run the appropriate definition algorithm (for nouns, verbs, or
adjectives) on your representations.
To do this, create a SNePS "demo" file. This is just a plain text file
containing lines of commented SNePS or Lisp code that SNePS reads and
executes. Your demo file will:
- begin with the necessary code to load various kinds of
information that are necessary for running all CVA demos,
- followed by the background knowledge for your passage,
- followed by your passage,
- and ending with an invocation of the appropriate definition
for a template for the demo file that you can save and adapt.
Modify your representations, prior knowledge, or the algorithm itself
(but the latter will require some
knowledge of Lisp!) in order to
improve the performance of the definition algorithm.
a conference-style research report
- an abstract, consisting of brief, 1-or-2-sentence
summaries of each of the following points (b-f, below)
- This is the
sort of information you might find yourself having to
give, extemporaneously, in a job interview, in an
informal discussion at a
conference/convention, or even in a "real" job when your
boss sees you in the hall or even in the mall :-)
- This should be completely self-contained; i.e., it
should be understandable by someone who is not familiar with
our CVA project, as well as by someone who does not bother to read the
rest of your paper! And your paper should not assume that
the reader has read the abstract!
- brief descriptions of the CVA project and SNePS
- the role of your task in the overall project,
e.g., which passage you're working on, what
you're trying to do with it, etc.
- what you have accomplished, including:
- a report on any human protocols you ran
- an annotated transcript of your demos
- commented SNePS representations of the sentence
and prior knowledge.
- what the immediate next steps in your part of the
- i.e., what you would have done had you had another week
or so to work on it)
- what longer-term future steps need to be taken
Please prepare all documents using a word processor (preferably
LaTeX), and hand in hard copy to me on or before the due date
announced in the syllabus. I would also like a PDF version emailed
- For further information on how to prepare your report, as
well as pointers on grammar, etc., see my webpage
"How to Write".
- To see what some other reports look like, browse
Reports" section of the CVA website.
You should create and edit
the files you will need by using your favorite text
editor and then running the files using SNePS's "demo"
command. (For details, see the
User Manual (a PDF file), esp. the relevant section on
"Using Auxiliary Files".)
Use Unix's "script" (or Emacs's equivalent) to create
transcripts of your interactions. (See me for
on using Unix "script".)
Copyright © 2003-2006 by
William J. Rapaport