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Title: Distributed representations for compositional semantics
Author: Hermann, Karl Moritz
ISNI:       0000 0004 5346 2145
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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The mathematical representation of semantics is a key issue for Natural Language Processing (NLP). A lot of research has been devoted to finding ways of representing the semantics of individual words in vector spaces. Distributional approaches—meaning distributed representations that exploit co-occurrence statistics of large corpora—have proved popular and successful across a number of tasks. However, natural language usually comes in structures beyond the word level, with meaning arising not only from the individual words but also the structure they are contained in at the phrasal or sentential level. Modelling the compositional process by which the meaning of an utterance arises from the meaning of its parts is an equally fundamental task of NLP. This dissertation explores methods for learning distributed semantic representations and models for composing these into representations for larger linguistic units. Our underlying hypothesis is that neural models are a suitable vehicle for learning semantically rich representations and that such representations in turn are suitable vehicles for solving important tasks in natural language processing. The contribution of this thesis is a thorough evaluation of our hypothesis, as part of which we introduce several new approaches to representation learning and compositional semantics, as well as multiple state-of-the-art models which apply distributed semantic representations to various tasks in NLP. Part I focuses on distributed representations and their application. In particular, in Chapter 3 we explore the semantic usefulness of distributed representations by evaluating their use in the task of semantic frame identification. Part II describes the transition from semantic representations for words to compositional semantics. Chapter 4 covers the relevant literature in this field. Following this, Chapter 5 investigates the role of syntax in semantic composition. For this, we discuss a series of neural network-based models and learning mechanisms, and demonstrate how syntactic information can be incorporated into semantic composition. This study allows us to establish the effectiveness of syntactic information as a guiding parameter for semantic composition, and answer questions about the link between syntax and semantics. Following these discoveries regarding the role of syntax, Chapter 6 investigates whether it is possible to further reduce the impact of monolingual surface forms and syntax when attempting to capture semantics. Asking how machines can best approximate human signals of semantics, we propose multilingual information as one method for grounding semantics, and develop an extension to the distributional hypothesis for multilingual representations. Finally, Part III summarizes our findings and discusses future work.
Supervisor: Pulman, Stephen; Blunsom, Philip Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Computational Linguistics ; Natural Language Processing. ; Computer science (mathematics) ; natural language processing ; compositional semantics ; deep learning