In Coherence and Natural Language, Florian Wolf and Edward Gibson specify and evaluate criteria for descriptively adequate data structures for representing discourse coherence. They test the influence of discourse structure on pronoun processing, evaluate different approaches for determining the relative importance of document segments, and propose a new coherence-based algorithm to accomplish this task. Their book offers the first large-scale empirical evaluation of data structures for representing coherence and also includes novel psycholinguistic tests of existing information extraction and text summarization systems.Wolf and Gibson evaluate whether tree structures are descriptively adequate for representing discourse coherence and conclude that more powerful data structure is needed because there are many different kinds of crossed dependencies and nodes with multiple parents in the discourse structures of naturally occurring texts. They propose that connected, labeled chain graphs make a better representation of coherence. They find additionally that causal coherence relations affect people's strategies for pronoun processing, which points to the psychological validity of coherence relations. Finally, they evaluate word-based, layout-based, and coherence-based approaches for estimating the importance of document segments in a document and find that coherence-based methods that operate on chain graphs perform best. With its attention to empirical validation and psycholinguistic processing, the book raises issues that are relevant to cognitive science as well as natural language processing and information extraction.
This volume brings together contributions by prominent researchers in the fields of language processing and language acquisition on topics of common interest: how people refer to objects in the world, how people comprehend such referential expressions, and how children acquire the ability to refer and to understand reference. The contributors first discuss issues related to children's acquisition and processing of reference, then consider evidence of adults' processing of reference from eye-tracking methods (the visual-world paradigm) and from corpora and reading experiments. They go on to discuss such topics as how children resolve ambiguity, children's difficulty in understanding coreference, the use of eye movements to physical objects to measure the accessibility of different referents, the uses of probabilistic and pragmatic information in language comprehension, antecedent accessibility and salience in reference, and neuropsychological data from the event-related potential (ERP) recording literature.