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Cognitive Computational Models of Pronoun Resolution

Abstract : Pronoun resolution is the process in which an anaphoric pronoun is linked to its antecedent. In a normal situation, humans do not experience much cognitive effort due to this process. However, automatic systems perform far from human accuracy, despite the efforts made by the Natural Language Processing community. Experimental research in the field of psycholinguistics has shown that during pronoun resolution many linguistic factors are taken into account by speakers. An important question is thus how much influence each of these factors has and how the factors interact with each-other. A second question is how linguistic theories about pronoun resolution can incorporate all relevant factors. In this thesis, we propose a new approach to answer these questions: computational simulation of the cognitive load of pronoun resolution. The motivation for this approach is two-fold. On the one hand, implementing hypotheses about pronoun resolution in a computational system leads to a more precise formulation of theories. On the other hand, robust computational systems can be run on uncontrolled data such as eye movement corpora and thus provide an alternative to hand-constructed experimental material. In this thesis, we conducted various experiments. First, we simulated the cognitive load of pronouns by learning the magnitude of impact of various factors on corpus data. Second, we tested whether concepts from Information Theory were relevant to predict the cognitive load of pronoun resolution. Finally, we evaluated a theoretical model of pronoun resolution on a corpus enriched with eye movement data. Our research shows that multiple factors play a role in pronoun resolution and that their influence can be estimated on corpus data. We also demonstrate that the concepts of Information Theory play a role in pronoun resolution. We conclude that the evaluation of hypotheses on corpus data enriched with cognitive data ---- such as eye movement data --- play an important role in the development and evaluation of theories. We expect that corpus based methods will lead to a better modelling of the influence of discourse structure on pronoun resolution in future work.
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Olga Seminck. Cognitive Computational Models of Pronoun Resolution. Linguistics. Université Sorbonne Paris Cité, 2018. English. ⟨NNT : 2018USPCC184⟩. ⟨tel-02442034⟩

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