extension of "the"

Rob Malouf rmalouf at mail.sdsu.edu
Sun Aug 29 23:13:21 UTC 2004

On Aug 29, 2004, at 1:24 PM, Alexander Gross wrote:
> Since you (singular and plural) imagine that it will one day be
> possible to construct an "adequate" machine translation system,
> here is *your* little assignment.  It's easy, it's all in English.  I
> want you to come up with the precise, practical rules by which
> we decide to put "the" in front of a noun as opposed to when
> we decide to put "a" or "an" in front of a noun as opposed to
> when we decide to put absolutely nothing ("zero-grade article")
> in front of a noun.   Also: precisely when do we have a choice
> between two possible methods?

While no one (that I know of) has written such rules, there's been
considerable work on addressing this problem using machine learning and
statistical models.  For example, this paper reports some early


I know they've improved on these results since then, but I can't find
the reference off hand.  At any rate, the performance of the best
models is getting close to that of humans at guessing which article
will be used in a given context.
Rob Malouf
rmalouf at mail.sdsu.edu
Department of Linguistics and Oriental Languages
San Diego State University

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