[developers] Questions about the MRS algebra from Seattle

Emily M. Bender ebender at uw.edu
Fri Jun 26 23:13:04 CEST 2015

Dear all,

The UW group has been reading and discussing Copestake et al 2001
and Copestake 2007, trying to get a better understanding of the MRS
algebra.  We have a few questions---I think some of these issues have been
proposed for the Summit, but I'm impatient, so I thought I'd try to get
a discussion going over email.  UW folks: Please feel free to chime in
with other questions I haven't remembered just now.

The two big ones are:

(1) Copestake et al 2001 don't explicitly state what the purpose of the
algebra is.  My understanding is that it provides a guarantee that the MRSs
produced by a grammar are well-formed, so long as the grammar is
algebra-compliant.   Well-formed MRS (in this sense) would necessarily
have an interpretation because the algebra shows how to compose the
interpretation for each sement.  Is this on track?  Are there other reasons
to want an algebra?


 (1a) I was a bit surprised to see the positing of labels in the model.
would a label correspond to in the world?  Is this akin to reification of
Are we really talking about all the labels here, or just those that survive
an MRS is fully scoped?
 (1b) How does this discussion relate to what Ann was talking about at IWCS
regarding the logical fragment of the ERG and the rest of the ERG?  That is,
if all of the ERG were algebra-compliant, does that mean that all of the
it can produce are compositional in their interpretation?  Or does that
a model that can "keep up"?

(2) Copestake et al state: "Since the constraints [= constraints on grammar
that make them algebra-compliant] need not be checked at runtime, it seems
better to regard them as metalevel conditions on the description of the
which can anyway easily be checked by code which converts the TFS into the
algebraic representation."  What is the current thinking on this?  Is it in
possible convert TFS (here I assume that means lexical entries & rules?) to
algebraic representation?  Has this been done?


Emily M. Bender
Professor, Department of Linguistics
Check out CLMS on facebook! http://www.facebook.com/uwclma
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