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Appendix F
Named-Entity State Machine Patterns [#]

There are, it seems to me, two basic reasons why minds aren’t computers... The first... is that human beings are organisms. Because of this we have all sorts of needs - for food, shelter, clothing, sex etc - and capacities - for locomotion, manipulation, articulate speech etc, and so on - to which there are no real analogies in computers. These needs and capacities underlie and interact with our mental activities. This is important, not simply because we can’t understand how humans behave except in the light of these needs and capacities, but because any historical explanation of how human mental life developed can only do so by looking at how this process interacted with the evolution of these needs and capacities in successive species of hominids.

The second reason... is that... brains don’t work like computers.

Minds, Machines and Evolution, Alex Callinicos, 1997 (ISJ 74, p.103).

This chapter describes the individual grammars used in GATE for Named Entity Recognition, and how they are combined together. It relates to the default NE grammar for ANNIE, but should also provide guidelines for those adapting or creating new grammars. For documentation about specific grammars other than this core set, use this document in combination with the comments in the relevant grammar files. chapter 8 also provides information about designing new grammar rules and tips for ensuring maximum processing speed.

F.1 Main.jape

This file contains a list of the grammars to be used, in the correct processing order. The ordering of the grammars is crucial, because they are processed in series, and later grammars may depend on annotations produced by earlier grammars.

The default grammar consists of the following phases:

F.2 first.jape

This grammar must always be processed first. It can contain any general macros needed for the whole grammar set. This should consist of a macro defining how space and control characters are to be processed (and may consequently be different for each grammar set, depending on the text type). Because this is defined first of all, it is not necessary to restate this in later grammars. This has a big advantage – it means that default grammars can be used for specialised grammar sets, without having to be adapted to deal with e.g. different treatment of spaces and control characters. In this way, only the first.jape file needs to be changed for each grammar set, rather than every individual grammar.

The first.jape grammar also has a dummy rule in. This is never intended to fire – it is simply added because every grammar set must contain rules, but there are no specific rules we wish to add here. Even if the rule were to match the pattern defined, it is designed not to produce any output (due to the empty RHS).

F.3 firstname.jape

This grammar contains rules to identify first names and titles via the gazetteer lists. It adds a gender feature where appropriate from the gazetteer list. This gender feature is used later in order to improve co-reference between names and pronouns. The grammar creates separate annotations of type FirstPerson and Title.

F.4 name.jape

This grammar contains initial rules for organization, location and person entities. These rules all create temporary annotations, some of which will be discarded later, but the majority of which will be converted into final annotations in later grammars. Rules beginning with ‘Not’ are negative rules – this means that we detect something and give it a special annotation (or no annotation at all) in order to prevent it being recognised as a name. This is because we have no negative operator (we have ‘=’ but not ‘!=’).

F.4.1 Person

We first define macros for initials, first names, surnames, and endings. We then use these to recognise combinations of first names from the previous phase, and surnames from their POS tags or case information. Persons get marked with the annotation ‘TempPerson’. We also percolate feature information about the gender from the previous annotations if known.

F.4.2 Location

The rules for Location are fairly straightforward, but we define them in this grammar so that any ambiguity can be resolved at the top level. Locations are often combined with other entity types, such as Organisations. This is dealt with by annotating the two entity types separately, and them combining them in a later phase. Locations are recognised mainly by gazetteer lookup, using not only lists of known places, but also key words such as mountain, lake, river, city etc. Locations are annotated as TempLocation in this phase.

F.4.3 Organization

Organizations tend to be defined either by straight lookup from the gazetteer lists, or, for the majority, by a combination of POS or case information and key words such as ‘company’, ‘bank’, ‘Services’ ‘Ltd.’ etc. Many organizations are also identified by contextual information in the later phase org_context.jape. In this phase, organizations are annotated as TempOrganization.

F.4.4 Ambiguities

Some ambiguities are resolved immediately in this grammar, while others are left until later phases. For example, a Christian name followed by a possible Location is resolved by default to a person rather than a Location (e.g. ‘Ken London’). On the other hand, a Christian name followed by a possible organisation ending is resolved to an Organisation (e.g. ‘Alexandra Pottery’), though this is a slightly less sure rule.

F.4.5 Contextual information

Although most of the rules involving contextual information are invoked in a much later phase, there are a few which are invoked here, such as ‘X joined Y’ where X is annotated as a Person and Y as an Organization. This is so that both annotations types can be handled at once.

F.5 name_post.jape

This grammar runs after the name grammar to fix some erroneous annotations that may have been created. Of course, a more elegant solution would be not to create the problem in the first instance, but this is a workaround. For example, if the surname of a Person contains certain stop words, e.g. ‘Mary And’ then only the first name should be recognised as a Person. However, it might be that the firstname is also an Organization (and has been tagged with TempOrganization already), e.g. ‘U.N.’ If this is the case, then the annotation is left untouched, because this is correct.

F.6 date_pre.jape

This grammar precedes the date phase, because it includes extra context to prevent dates being recognised erroneously in the middle of longer expressions. It mainly treats the case where an expression is already tagged as a Person, but could also be tagged as a date (e.g. 16th Jan).

F.7 date.jape

This grammar contains the base rules for recognising times and dates. Given the complexity of potential patterns representing such expressions, there are a large number of rules and macros.

Although times and dates can be mutually ambiguous, we try to distinguish between them as early as possible. Dates, times and years are generally tagged separately (as TempDate, TempTime and TempYear respectively) and then recombined to form a final Date annotation in a later phase. This is because dates, times and years can be combined together in many different ways, and also because there can be much ambiguity between the three. For example, 1312 could be a time or a year, while 9-10 could be a span of time or date, or a fixed time or date.

F.8 reldate.jape

This grammar handles relative rather than absolute date and time sequences, such as ‘yesterday morning’, ‘2 hours ago’, ‘the first 9 months of the financial year’etc. It uses mainly explicit key words such as ‘ago’ and items from the gazetteer lists.

F.9 number.jape

This grammar covers rules concerning money and percentages. The rules are fairly straightforward, using keywords from the gazetteer lists, and there is little ambiguity here, except for example where ‘Pound’ can be money or weight, or where there is no explicit currency denominator.

F.10 address.jape

Rules for Address cover ip addresses, phone and fax numbers, and postal addresses. In general, these are not highly ambiguous, and can be covered with simple pattern matching, although phone numbers can require use of contextual information. Currently only UK formats are really handled, though handling of foreign zipcodes and phone number formats is envisaged in future. The annotations produced are of type Email, Phone etc. and are then replaced in a later phase with final Address annotations with ‘phone’ etc. as features.

F.11 url.jape

Rules for email addresses and Urls are in a separate grammar from the other address types, for the simple reason that SpaceTokens need to be identified for these rules to operate, whereas this is not necessary for the other Address types. For speed of processing, we place them in separate grammars so that SpaceTokens can be eliminated from the Input when they are not required.

F.12 identifier.jape

This grammar identifies ‘Identifiers’ which basically means any combination of numbers and letters acting as an ID, reference number etc. not recognised as any other entity type.

F.13 jobtitle.jape

This grammar simply identifies Jobtitles from the gazetteer lists, and adds a JobTitle annotation, which is used in later phases to aid recognition of other entity types such as Person and Organization. It may then be discarded in the Clean phase if not required as a final annotation type.

F.14 final.jape

This grammar uses the temporary annotations previously assigned in the earlier phases, and converts them into final annotations. The reason for this is that we need to be able to resolve ambiguities between different entity types, so we need to have all the different entity types handled in a single grammar somewhere. Ambiguities can be resolved using prioritisation techniques. Also, we may need to combine previously annotated elements, such as dates and times, into a single entity.

The rules in this grammar use Java code on the RHS to remove the existing temporary annotations, and replace them with new annotations. This is because we want to retain the features associated with the temporary annotations. For example, we might need to keep track of whether a person is male or female, or whether a location is a city or country. It also enables us to keep track of which rules have been used, for debugging purposes.

For the sake of obfuscation, although this phase is called final, it is not the final phase!

F.15 unknown.jape

This short grammar finds proper nouns not previously recognised, and gives them an Unknown annotation. This is then used by the namematcher – if an Unknown annotation can be matched with a previously categorised entity, its annotation is changed to that of the matched entity. Any remaining Unknown annotations are useful for debugging purposes, and can also be used as input for additional grammars or processing resources.

F.16 name_context.jape

This grammar looks for Unknown annotations occurring in certain contexts which indicate they might belong to Person. This is a typical example of a grammar that would benefit from learning or automatic context generation, because useful contexts are (a) hard to find manually and may require large volumes of training data, and (b) often very domain–specific. In this core grammar, we confine the use of contexts to fairly general uses, since this grammar should not be domain–dependent.

F.17 org_context.jape

This grammar operates on a similar principle to name_context.jape. It is slightly oriented towards business texts, so does not quite fulfil the generality criteria of the previous grammar. It does, however, provide some insight into more detailed use of contexts.</p>

F.18 loc_context.jape

This grammar also operates in a similar manner to the preceding two, using general context such as coordinated pairs of locations, and hyponymic types of information.

F.19 clean.jape

This grammar comes last of all, and simply aims to clean up (remove) some of the temporary annotations that may not have been deleted along the way.