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Natural Language Generation

 Natural Language Generation is a subfield of Computational Linguistics and language-oriented Artificial Intelligence research devoted to studying and simulating the production of written or spoken discourse. The study of human language generation is a multidisciplinary enterprise, requiring expertise in areas of linguistics, psychology, engineering and computer science. One of the central goals is to investigate how computer programs can be made to produce high-quality natural language text from computer-internal representations of information.

Natural language generation often is characterized as a process that has to start from the communicative goals of the writer or speaker and needs to employ some sort of planning to progressively convert them into written or spoken words. In this view, the general aims of the language producer are refined into goals that are increasingly linguistic in nature, culminating in low-level goals to produce particular words. Usually, a modularization of the generation process is assumed which roughly distinguishes between a strategical (deciding what to say) and a tactical (deciding how to say it) part. This strategy-tactics distinction is partly mirrored by a distinction between text planning and sentence generation. Text planning is concerned with working out the large-scale structure of the text to be produced and may also comprise content selection. The result of this subprocess is commonly taken to be a tree-like discourse structure, which has at each leaf an instruction to produce a single sentence. These instructions are then passed in turn to a sentence generator, whose task can be further subdivided into sentence planning, i.e. organizing the content of each sentence, and the final step of surface realization, i.e. converting sentence-sized chunks of representation into grammatically correct sentences.

The different types of generation techniques can be classified into four main categories:

Many natural language generation systems follow a hybrid approach by combining components that utilize different techniques.

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Gerd Herzog
Last update: Fri Feb 26 13:17:30 MET 1999


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