NPtool Intro

Uses of a Noun Phrase Parser

The recognition and analysis of subclausal structural units, e.g. noun phrases, is useful for several purposes. Firstly, a noun phrase detector can be useful for research purposes: automatic large-scale analysis of running text provides the linguist with better means to conduct e.g. quantitative studies over large amounts of text.

An accurate though somewhat superficial analysis can also serve as a "preprocessor" prior to more ambitious, e.g. feature-based syntactic analysis. This kind of division of labour is likely to be useful for technical reasons. One major problem with e.g. unification-based parsers is parsing time. Now if a substantial part of the overall problem is resolved with more simple and efficient techniques, the task of the unification-based parser will become more manageable. In other words, the more expressive but computationally heavier machinery of e.g. the unification-based parser can be reserved entirely for the analysis of the descriptively hardest problems. The less complex parts of the overall problem can be tackled with more simple and efficient techniques.

Regarding production uses, even lower levels of analysis can be directly useful. For instance, the detection of noun phrases can provide e.g. information management and retrieval systems with a suitable input for index term generation.

Noun phrases can also serve as translation units; for instance, van der Eijk (Eij93) suggests that noun phrases are more appropriate translation units than words or part-of-speech classes.

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