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Title: Geometric methods for context sensitive distributional semantics
Author: McGregor, Stephen
ISNI:       0000 0004 7653 6805
Awarding Body: Queen Mary University of London
Current Institution: Queen Mary, University of London
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis describes a novel methodology, grounded in the distributional semantic paradigm, for building context sensitive models of word meaning, affording an empirical exploration of the relationship between words and concepts. Anchored in theoretical linguistic insight regarding the contextually specified nature of lexical semantics, the work presented here explores a range of techniques for the selection of subspaces of word co-occurrence dimensions based on a statistical analysis of input terms as observed within large-scale textual corpora. The relationships between word-vectors that emerge in the projected subspaces can be analysed in terms of a mapping between their geometric features and their semantic properties. The power of this modelling technique is its ability to generate ad hoc semantic relationships in response to an extemporaneous linguistic or conceptual situation. The product of this approach is a generalisable computational linguistic methodology, capable of taking input in various forms, including word groupings and sentential context, and dynamically generating output from a broad base model of word co-occurrence data. To demonstrate the versatility of the method, this thesis will present competitive empirical results on a range of established natural language tasks including word similarity and relatedness rating, metaphor and metonymy detection, and analogy completion. A range of techniques will be applied in order to explore the ways in which different aspects of projected geometries can be mapped to different semantic relationships, allowing for the discovery of a range of lexical and conceptual properties for any given input and providing a basis for an empirical exploration of distinctions between the semantic phenomena under analysis. The case made here is that the flexibility of these models and their ability to extend output to evaluations of unattested linguistic relationships constitutes the groundwork for a method for the extrapolation of dynamic conceptual relationships from large-scale textual corpora. This method is presented as a complement and a counterpoint to established distributional methods for generating lexically productive word-vectors. Where contemporary vector space models of distributional semantics have almost universally involved either the factorisation of co-occurrence matrices or the incremental learning of abstract representations using neural networks, the approach described in this thesis preserves the connection between the individual dimensions of word-vectors and statistics pertaining to observations in a textual corpus. The hypothesis tested here is that the maintenance of actual, interpretable information about underlying linguistic data allows for the contextual selection of non-normalised subspaces with more nuanced geometric features. In addition to presenting competitive results for various computational linguistic targets, the thesis will suggest that the transparency of its representations indicates scope for the application of this model to various real-world problems where an interpretable relationship between data and output is highly desirable. This, finally, demonstrates a way towards the productive application of the theory and philosophy of language to computational linguistic practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Electronic Engineering and Computer Science ; word meaning ; lexical semantics