DV Pynadath and MP Wellman

IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence 20:65-77, 1998.
Copyright © 1998 IEEE.


Probabilistic context-free grammars (PCFGs) provide a simple way to represent a particular class of distributions over sentences in a context-free language. Efficient parsing algorithms for answering particular queries about a PCFG (i.e., calculating the probability of a given sentence, or finding the most likely parse) have been developed and applied to a variety of pattern-recognition problems. We extend the class of queries that can be answered in several ways: (1) allowing missing tokens in a sentence or sentence fragment, (2) supporting queries about intermediate structure, such as the presence of particular nonterminals, and (3) flexible conditioning on a variety of types of evidence. Our method works by constructing a Bayesian network to represent the distribution of parse trees induced by a given PCFG. The network structure mirrors that of the chart in a standard parser, and is generated using a similar dynamic programming approach. We present an algorithm for constructing Bayesian networks from PCFGs, and show how queries or patterns of queries on the network correspond to interesting queries on PCFGs. The network formalism also supports extensions to encode various context sensitivities within the probabilistic dependency structure.

Revised and extended version of a paper presented at the Thirteenth National Conference on Artificial Intelligence, August 1996.


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