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Computational Linguistics

Paola Merlo, Editor
December 2004, Vol. 30, No. 4, Pages 401-416
(doi: 10.1162/0891201042544893)
© 2004 Association for Computational Linguistics
Optimizing Referential Coherence in Text Generation
Article PDF (306.12 KB)

This article describes an implemented system which uses centering theory for planning of coherent texts and choice of referring expressions. We argue that text and sentence planning need to be driven in part by the goal of maintaining referential continuity and thereby facilitating pronoun resolution: Obtaining a favorable ordering of clauses, and of arguments within clauses, is likely to increase opportunities for nonambiguous pronoun use. Centering theory provides the basis for such an integrated approach. Generating coherent texts according to centering theory is treated as a constraint satisfaction problem. The well-known Rule 2 of centering theory is reformulated in terms of a set of constraints—cohesion, salience, cheapness, and continuity—and we show sample outputs obtained under a particular weighting of these constraints. This framework facilitates detailed research into evaluation metrics and will therefore provide a productive research tool in addition to the immediate practical benefit of improving the fluency and readability of generated texts. The technique is generally applicable to natural language generation systems, which perform hierarchical text structuring based on a theory of coherence relations with certain additional assumptions.