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Computational Linguistics

Paola Merlo, Editor
March 2012, Vol. 38, No. 1, Pages 113-134
(doi: 10.1162/COLI_a_00086)
© 2012 Association for Computational Linguistics
Generating Numerical Approximations
Article PDF (206.3 KB)

We describe a computational model for planning phrases like “more than a quarter” and “25.9 per cent” which describe proportions at different levels of precision. The model lays out the key choices in planning a numerical description, using formal definitions of mathematical form (e.g., the distinction between fractions and percentages) and roundness adapted from earlier studies. The task is modeled as a constraint satisfaction problem, with solutions subsequently ranked by preferences (e.g., for roundness). Detailed constraints are based on a corpus of numerical expressions collected in the NumGen project,1

NumGen: Generating intelligent descriptions of numerical quantities for people with different levels of numeracy (http://mcs.open.ac.uk/sw6629/numgen). NumGen was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council under Grant Ref. RES-000-22-2760.

and evaluated through empirical studies in which subjects were asked to produce (or complete) numerical expressions in specified contexts.