Going to the Roots of Dependency Parsing

Miguel Ballesteros

Omega-S208 Campus Nord - UPC

Fri Apr 25, 2014



In this seminar I will first introduce transition-based dependency parsing and present the conclusions extracted from a journal paper that I have never had the chance to present in public, besides I'm going to sum up my current, past and future research collaboration projects with some new results and developments.

Dependency trees used in syntactic parsing often include a root node representing a dummy word prefixed or suffixed to the sentence, a device that is generally considered a mere technical convenience and is tacitly assumed to have no impact on empirical results. We demonstrate that this assumption is false and that the accuracy of data-driven dependency parsers can in fact be sensitive to the existence and placement of the dummy root node. In particular, we show that a greedy, left-to-right, arc-eager transition-based parser consistently performs worse when the dummy root node is placed at the beginning of the sentence (following the current convention in data-driven dependency parsing) than when it is placed at the end or omitted completely. Control experiments with an arc-standard transition-based parser and an arc-factored graph- based parser reveal no consistent preferences but nevertheless exhibit considerable variation in results depending on root placement. We conclude that the treatment of dummy root nodes in data-driven dependency parsing is an underestimated source of variation in experiments and may also be a parameter worth tuning for some parsers.


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