Natural Language Engineering


Interpreting compound nouns with kernel methods


a1 Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK e-mail: [email protected], [email protected]


This paper presents a classification-based approach to noun–noun compound interpretation within the statistical learning framework of kernel methods. In this framework, the primary modelling task is to define measures of similarity between data items, formalised as kernel functions. We consider the different sources of information that are useful for understanding compounds and proceed to define kernels that compute similarity between compounds in terms of these sources. In particular, these kernels implement intuitive notions of lexical and relational similarity and can be computed using distributional information extracted from text corpora. We report performance on classification experiments with three semantic relation inventories at different levels of granularity, demonstrating in each case that combining lexical and relational information sources is beneficial and gives better performance than either source taken alone. The data used in our experiments are taken from general English text, but our methods are also applicable to other domains and potentially to other languages where noun–noun compounding is frequent and productive.

(Received October 09 2011)

(Revised May 31 2012)

(Accepted October 05 2012)

(Online publication March 12 2013)