Algorithms for Analysing the Temporal Structure of Discourse

Janet Hitzeman, Marc Moens, Claire Grover

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We describe a method for analysing the temporal structure of a discourse which takes into account the effects of tense, aspect, temporal adverbials and rhetorical structure and which minimises unnecessary ambiguity in the temporal structure. It is part of a discourse grammar implemented in Carpenter's ALE formalism. The method for building up the temporal structure of the discourse combines constraints and preferences: we use constraints to reduce the number
of possible structures, exploiting the HPSG type hierarchy and unification for this purpose; and we apply preferences to choose between the remaining options using a temporal centering mechanism. We end by recommending that an underspecified representation of the structure using these techniques be used to avoid generating the temporal/rhetorical structure until higher-level information can be used to disambiguate.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEACL 1995, 7th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, March 27-31, 1995, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin, Ireland
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - 1995

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