Conversation Trees: A Grammar Model for Topic Structure in Forums

Annie Louis, Shay B. Cohen

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

Abstract

Online forum discussions proceed differently from face-to-face conversations and any single thread on an online forum contains posts on different subtopics. This work aims to characterize the content of a forum thread as a conversation tree of topics. We present models that jointly per- form two tasks: segment a thread into sub-parts, and assign a topic to each part. Our core idea is a definition of topic structure using probabilistic grammars. By leveraging the flexibility of two grammar formalisms, Context-Free Grammars and Linear Context-Free Rewriting Systems, our models create desirable structures for forum threads: our topic segmentation is hierarchical, links non-adjacent segments on the same topic, and jointly labels the topic during segmentation. We show that our models outperform a number of tree generation baselines.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2015 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing
Place of PublicationLisbon, Portugal
PublisherAssociation for Computational Linguistics
Pages1543-1553
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 2015

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