Macquarie University
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Modelling syntactic gradience with loose constraint-based parsing: Modélisation de la gradience syntaxique par analyse relâchée à base de contraintes

posted on 2022-03-28, 12:57 authored by Jean-Philippe Prost
The grammaticality of a sentence has conventionally been treated in a binary way: either a sentence is grammatical or not. A growing body of work, however, focuses on studying intermediate levels of acceptability, sometimes referred to as gradience. To date, the bulk of this work has concerned itself with the exploration of human assessments of syntactic gradience. This dissertation explores the possibility to build a robust computational model that accords with these human judgements. -- We suggest that the concepts of Intersective Gradience and Subsective Gradience introduced by Aarts for modelling graded judgements be extended to cover deviant language. Under such a new model, the problem then raised by gradience is to classify an utterance as a member of a specific category according to its syntactic characteristics. More specifically, we extend Intersective Gradience (IG) so that it is concerned with choosing the most suitable syntactic structure for an utterance among a set of candidates, while Subsective Gradience (SG) is extended to be concerned with calculating to what extent the chosen syntactic structure is typical from the category at stake. IG is addressed in relying on a criterion of optimality, while SG is addressed in rating an utterance according to its grammatical acceptability. As for the required syntactic characteristics, which serve as features for classifying an utterance, our investigation of different frameworks for representing the syntax of natural language shows that they can easily be represented in Model-Theoretic Syntax; we choose to use Property Grammars (PG), which offers to model the characterisation of an utterance. We present here a fully automated solution for modelling syntactic gradience, which characterises any well formed or ill formed input sentence, generates an optimal parse for it, then rates the utterance according to its grammatical acceptability. -- Through the development of such a new model of gradience, the main contribution of this work is three-fold. -- First, we specify a model-theoretic logical framework for PG, which bridges the gap observed in the existing formalisation regarding the constraint satisfaction and constraint relaxation mechanisms, and how they relate to the projection of a category during the parsing process. This new framework introduces the notion of loose satisfaction, along with a formulation in first-order logic, which enables reasoning about the characterisation of an utterance. -- Second, we present our implementation of Loose Satisfaction Chart Parsing (LSCP), a dynamic programming approach based on the above mechanisms, which is proven to always find the full parse of optimal merit. Although it shows a high theoretical worst time complexity, it performs sufficiently well with the help of heuristics to let us experiment with our model of gradience. -- And third, after postulating that human acceptability judgements can be predicted by factors derivable from LSCP, we present a numeric model for rating an utterance according to its syntactic gradience. We measure a good correlation with grammatical acceptability by human judgements. Moreover, the model turns out to outperform an existing one discussed in the literature, which was experimented with parses generated manually.


Alternative Title

Modélisation de la gradience syntaxique par analyse relâchée à base de contraintes

Table of Contents

Introduction -- Background -- A model-theoretic framework for PG -- Loose constraint-based parsing -- A computational model for gradience -- Conclusion.


Includes bibliography (p. 229-240) and index Thesis submitted for the joint institutional requirements for the double-badged degree of Doctor of Philosophy and Docteur de l'Université de Provence, Spécialité : Informatique.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Division of Information and Communication Sciences, Department of Computing

Department, Centre or School

Department of Computing

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Diego Mollá Aliod

Additional Supervisor 1

Mark Dras


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Jean-Philippe Prost 2008.




xxviii, 283 p. ill

Former Identifiers

mq:4106 1291327