Edinburgh Research Archive >
Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, School of >
Linguistics and English Language >
Linguistics and English Language PhD thesis collection >
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item:
|Title: ||Toward summarization of communicative activities in spoken conversation|
|Authors: ||Niekrasz, John Joseph|
|Supervisor(s): ||Moore, Johanna|
|Issue Date: ||27-Jun-2012|
|Publisher: ||The University of Edinburgh|
|Abstract: ||This thesis is an inquiry into the nature and structure of face-to-face conversation, with a
special focus on group meetings in the workplace. I argue that conversations are composed
of episodes, each of which corresponds to an identifiable communicative activity such as
giving instructions or telling a story. These activities are important because they are part
of participants’ commonsense understanding of what happens in a conversation. They
appear in natural summaries of conversations such as meeting minutes, and participants
talk about them within the conversation itself. Episodic communicative activities therefore
represent an essential component of practical, commonsense descriptions of conversations.
The thesis objective is to provide a deeper understanding of how such activities may be
recognized and differentiated from one another, and to develop a computational method
for doing so automatically. The experiments are thus intended as initial steps toward future
applications that will require analysis of such activities, such as an automatic minute-taker
for workplace meetings, a browser for broadcast news archives, or an automatic decision
mapper for planning interactions.
My main theoretical contribution is to propose a novel analytical framework called participant
relational analysis. The proposal argues that communicative activities are principally
indicated through participant-relational features, i.e., expressions of relationships between
participants and the dialogue. Participant-relational features, such as subjective language,
verbal reference to the participants, and the distribution of speech activity amongst
the participants, are therefore argued to be a principal means for analyzing the nature and
structure of communicative activities.
I then apply the proposed framework to two computational problems: automatic discourse
segmentation and automatic discourse segment labeling. The first set of experiments
test whether participant-relational features can serve as a basis for automatically
segmenting conversations into discourse segments, e.g., activity episodes. Results show
that they are effective across different levels of segmentation and different corpora, and indeed sometimes more effective than the commonly-used method of using semantic links
between content words, i.e., lexical cohesion. They also show that feature performance is
highly dependent on segment type, suggesting that human-annotated “topic segments” are
in fact a multi-dimensional, heterogeneous collection of topic and activity-oriented units.
Analysis of commonly used evaluation measures, performed in conjunction with the
segmentation experiments, reveals that they fail to penalize substantially defective results
due to inherent biases in the measures. I therefore preface the experiments with a comprehensive
analysis of these biases and a proposal for a novel evaluation measure. A reevaluation
of state-of-the-art segmentation algorithms using the novel measure produces
substantially different results from previous studies. This raises serious questions about the
effectiveness of some state-of-the-art algorithms and helps to identify the most appropriate
ones to employ in the subsequent experiments.
I also preface the experiments with an investigation of participant reference, an important
type of participant-relational feature. I propose an annotation scheme with novel distinctions
for vagueness, discourse function, and addressing-based referent inclusion, each
of which are assessed for inter-coder reliability. The produced dataset includes annotations
of 11,000 occasions of person-referring.
The second set of experiments concern the use of participant-relational features to
automatically identify labels for discourse segments. In contrast to assigning semantic topic
labels, such as topical headlines, the proposed algorithm automatically labels segments
according to activity type, e.g., presentation, discussion, and evaluation. The method is
unsupervised and does not learn from annotated ground truth labels. Rather, it induces the
labels through correlations between discourse segment boundaries and the occurrence of
bracketing meta-discourse, i.e., occasions when the participants talk explicitly about what
has just occurred or what is about to occur. Results show that bracketing meta-discourse
is an effective basis for identifying some labels automatically, but that its use is limited if
global correlations to segment features are not employed.
This thesis addresses important pre-requisites to the automatic summarization of conversation.
What I provide is a novel activity-oriented perspective on how summarization
should be approached, and a novel participant-relational approach to conversational analysis.
The experimental results show that analysis of participant-relational features is a|
|Keywords: ||natural language processing|
|Appears in Collections:||Linguistics and English Language PhD thesis collection|
Items in ERA are protected by copyright, with all rights reserved, unless otherwise indicated.