A flexible distributed architecture for NLP system development

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Summary of A flexible distributed architecture for NLP system development

A flexible distributed architecture for NLP system development and use Freddy Y. Y. Choi Artificial Intelligence Group University of Manchester Manchester, U.K. [email protected] Abstract We describe a distributed, modular architecture for platform independent natural language sys- tems. It features automatic interface genera- tion and self-organization. Adaptive (and non- adaptive) voting mechanisms are used for inte- grating discrete modules. The architecture is suitable for rapid prototyping and product de- livery. 1 Introduction This article describes TEA 1, a flexible architec- ture for developing and delivering platform in- dependent text engineering (TE) systems. TEA provides a generalized framework for organizing and applying reusable TE components (e.g. to- kenizer, stemmer). Thus, developers are able to focus on problem solving rather than imple- mentation. For product delivery, the end user receives an exact copy of the developer's edition. The visibility of configurable options (different levels of detail) is adjustable along a simple gra- dient via the automatically generated user inter- face (Edwards, Forthcoming). Our target application is telegraphic text compression (Choi (1999b); of Roelofs (Forth- coming); Grefenstette (1998)). We aim to im- prove the efficiency of screen readers for the visually disabled by removing uninformative words (e.g. determiners) in text documents. This produces a stream of topic cues for rapid skimming. The information value of each word is to be estimated based on an unusually wide range of linguistic information. TEA was designed to be a development en- vironment for this work. However, the target application has led us to produce an interesting tTEA is an acronym for Text Engineering Architec- ture. architecture and techniques that are more gen- erally applicable, and it is these which we will focus on in this paper. 2 Architecture I System input and output I I L I I Plug*ins Shared knowledge System control s~ructure Figure 1: An overview of the TEA system framework. The central component of TEA is a frame- based data model (F) (see Fig.2). In this model, a document is a list of frames (Rich and Knight, 1991) for recording the properties about each token in the text (example in Fig.2). A typical TE system converts a document into F with an input plug-in. The information required at the output determines the set of process plug-ins to activate. These use the information in F to add annotations to F. Their dependencies are auto- matically resolved by TEA. System behavior is controlled by adjusting the configurable param- eters. Frame 1: (:token An :pos art :begin_s 1) Frame 2: (:token example :pos n) Frame 3: (:token sentence :pos n) Frame 4: (:token . :pos punc :end_s 1) Figure 2: "An example sentence." in a frame- based data model 615 This type of architecture has been imple- mented, classically, as a 'blackboard' system such as Hearsay-II (Erman, 1980), where inter- module communication takes place through a shared knowledge structure; or as a 'message- passing' system where the modules communi- cate directly. Our architecture is similar to blackboard systems. However, the purpose of F (the shared knowledge structure in TEA) is to provide a single extendable data structure for annotating text. It also defines a standard in- terface for inter-module communication, thus, improves system integration and ease of soft- ware reuse. 2.1 Voting mechanism A feature that distinguishes TEA from similar systems is its use of voting mechanisms for sys- tem integration. Our approach has two distinct but uniformly treated applications. First, for any type of language analysis, different tech- niques ti will return successful results P(r) on different subsets of the problem space. Thus combining the outputs P(rlti) from several ti should give a result more accurate than any one in isolation. This has been demonstrated in sev- eral systems (e.g. Choi (1999a); van Halteren et al. (1998); Brill and Wu (1998); Veronis and Ide (1991)). Our architecture currently offers two types of voting mechanisms: weighted av- erage (Eq.1) and weighted maximum (Eq.2). A Bayesian classifier (Weiss and Kulikowski, 1991) based weight estimation algorithm (Eq.3) is in- cluded for constructing adaptive voting mecha- nisms. P(r) = w P(rlti) i=1 (1) P(r) = max{WlP(rltx),...,w,,P(rlt,)} (2) = P(rlt,)) (3) Second, different types of analysis a/ will pro- vide different information about a problem, hence, a solution is improved by combining sev- eral ai. For telegraphic text compression, we es- timate E(w), the information value of a word, based on a wide range of different information sources (Fig.2.1 shows a subset of our working system). The output of each ai are combined by a voting mechanism to form a single measure. Vo~ng mechanism 0 Pmcoss 0 I " ....... "I l I I ! Technique Ane~ysis com~na~on ¢om~n~on Figure 3: An example configuration of TEA for telegraphic text compression. Thus, for example, if our system encoun- ters the phrase 'President Clinton', both lexical lookup and automatic tagging will agree that 'President' is a noun. Nouns are generally infor- mative, so should be retained in the compressed output text. However, grammar-based syntac- tic analysis gives a lower weighting to the first noun of a noun-noun construction, and bigram analysis tells us that 'President Clinton' is a common word pair. These two modules overrule the simple POS value, and 'President Clinton' is reduced to 'Clinton'. 3 Related work Current trends in the development of reusable TE tools are best represented by the Edinburgh tools (LTGT) 2 (LTG, 1999) and GATE 3 (Cun- ningham et al., 1995). Like TEA, both LTGT and GATE are frameworks for TE. LTGT adopts the pipeline architecture for module integration. For processing, a text doc- ument is converted into SGML format. Pro- cessing modules are then applied to the SGML file sequentially. Annotations are accumulated as mark-up tags in the text. The architecture is simple to understand, robust and future proof. The SGML/XML standard is well developed and supported by the community. This im- proves the reusability of the tools. However, 2LTGT is an acronym for the Edinburgh Language Technology Group Tools aGATE is an acronym for General Architecture for Text Engineering. 616 tile architecture encourages tool development rather than reuse of existing TE components. GATE is based on an object-oriented data model (similar to the TIPSTER architecture (Grishman, 1997)). Modules communicate by reading and writing information to and from a central database. Unlike LTGT, both GATE and TEA are designed to encourage software reuse. Existing TE tools are easily incorporated with Tcl wrapper scripts and Java interfaces, re- spectively. Features that distinguish LTCT, GATE and TEA are the configuration methods, portabil- ity and motivation. Users of LTGT write shell scripts to define a system (as a chain of LTGT components). With GATE, a system is con- structed manually by wiring TE components to- gether using the graphical interface. TEA as- sumes the user knows nothing but the available input and required output. The appropriate set of plug-ins are automatically activated. Module selection can be manually configured by adjust- ing the parameters of the voting mechanisms. This ensures a TE system is accessible to com- plete novices ~,,-I yet has sufficient control for developers. LTGT and GATE are both open-source C ap- plications. They can be recompiled for many platforms. TEA is a Java application. It can run directly (without compilation) on any Java supported systems. However, applications con- structed with the current release of GATE and TEA are less portable than those produced with LTGT. GATE and TEA encourage reuse of ex- isting components, not all of which are platform independent 4. We believe this is a worth while trade off since it allows developers to construct prototypes with components that are only avail- able as separate applications. Native tools can be developed incrementally. 4 An example Our application is telegraphic text compression. The examples were generated with a subset of our working system using a section of the book HAL's legacy (Stork, 1997) as test data. First, we use different compression techniques to gen- erate the examples in Fig.4. This was done by simply adjusting a parameter of an output plug- 4This is not a problem for LTGT since the architec- ture does not encourage component reuse. in. It is clear that the output is inadequate for rapid text skimming. To improve the system, the three measures were combine with an un- weighted voting mechanism. Fig.4 presents two levels of compression using the new measure. 1. With science fiction films the more science you understand the less you admire the film or respect its makers 2. fiction films understand less admire respect makers 3. fiction understand less admire respect makers 4. science fiction films science film makers Figure 4: Three measures of information value: (1) Original sentence, (2) Token frequency, (3) Stem frequency and (4) POS. 1. science fiction films understand less admire film respect makers 2. fiction makers Figure 5: Improving telegraphic text compres- sion by analysis combination. 5 Conclusions and future directions We have described an interesting architecture (TEA) for developing platform independent text engineering applications. Product delivery, configuration and development are made sim- ple by the self-organizing architecture and vari- able interface. The use of voting mechanisms for integrating discrete modules is original. Its motivation is well supported. The current implementation of TEA is geared towards token analysis. We plan to extend the data model to cater for structural annota- tions. The tool set for TEA is constantly be- ing extended, recent additions include a proto- type symbolic classifier, shallow parser (Choi, Forthcoming), sentence segmentation algorithm (Reynar and Ratnaparkhi, 1997) and a POS tagger (Ratnaparkhi, 1996). Other adaptive voting mechanisms are to be investigated. Fu- ture release of TEA will support concurrent ex- ecution (distributed processing) over a network. Finally, we plan to investigate means of im- proving system integration and module orga- nization, e.g. annotation, module and tag set compatibility. 617 References E. Brill and J. Wu. 1998. Classifier combina- tion for improved lexical disambiguation. In Proceedings of COLING-A CL '98, pages 191- 195, Montreal, Canada, August. F. Choi. 1999a. An adaptive voting mechanism for improving the reliability of natural lan- guage processing systems. 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