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Computational Linguistics

Paola Merlo, Editor
June 2012, Vol. 38, No. 2, Pages 369-410
(doi: 10.1162/COLI_a_00126)
© 2012 Association for Computational Linguistics
Speculation and Negation: Rules, Rankers, and the Role of Syntax
Article PDF (406.93 KB)

This article explores a combination of deep and shallow approaches to the problem of resolving the scope of speculation and negation within a sentence, specifically in the domain of biomedical research literature. The first part of the article focuses on speculation. After first showing how speculation cues can be accurately identified using a very simple classifier informed only by local lexical context, we go on to explore two different syntactic approaches to resolving the in-sentence scopes of these cues. Whereas one uses manually crafted rules operating over dependency structures, the other automatically learns a discriminative ranking function over nodes in constituent trees. We provide an in-depth error analysis and discussion of various linguistic properties characterizing the problem, and show that although both approaches perform well in isolation, even better results can be obtained by combining them, yielding the best published results to date on the CoNLL-2010 Shared Task data. The last part of the article describes how our speculation system is ported to also resolve the scope of negation. With only modest modifications to the initial design, the system obtains state-of-the-art results on this task also.