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Computational Linguistics

Paola Merlo, Editor
March 2005, Vol. 31, No. 1, Pages 25-70
(doi: 10.1162/0891201053630273)
© 2005 Association for Computational Linguistics
Discriminative Reranking for Natural Language Parsing
Article PDF (706.07 KB)

This article considers approaches which rerank the output of an existing probabilistic parser. The base parser produces a set of candidate parses for each input sentence, with associated probabilities that define an initial ranking of these parses. A second model then attempts to improve upon this initial ranking, using additional features of the tree as evidence. The strength of our approach is that it allows a tree to be represented as an arbitrary set of features, without concerns about how these features interact or overlap and without the need to define a derivation or a generative model which takes these features into account. We introduce a new method for the reranking task, based on the boosting approach to ranking problems described in Freund et al. (1998). We apply the boosting method to parsing the Wall Street Journal treebank. The method combined the log-likelihood under a baseline model (that of Collins [1999]) with evidence from an additional 500,000 features over parse trees that were not included in the original model. The new model achieved 89.75% F-measure, a 13% relative decrease in F-measure error over the baseline model's score of 88.2%. The article also introduces a new algorithm for the boosting approach which takes advantage of the sparsity of the feature space in the parsing data. Experiments show significant efficiency gains for the new algorithm over the obvious implementation of the boosting approach. We argue that the method is an appealing alternative-in terms of both simplicity and efficiency-to work on feature selection methods within log-linear (maximum-entropy) models. Although the experiments in this article are on natural language parsing (NLP), the approach should be applicable to many other NLP problems which are naturally framed as ranking tasks, for example, speech recognition, machine translation, or natural language generation.