Thursday, October 8, 2020

What are the challenges in ambiguity resolution in NLP?

What are the challenges in ambiguity resolution in NLP?


Challenges in ambiguity resolution


Ambiguity presents in almost all the steps of natural language processing. (Steps of NLP – lexical analysis, syntactic analysis, semantic analysis, discourse analysis, and pragmatic analysis).

Let us take the possible ambiguities and discuss about various challenges in ambiguity resolution;

Lexical ambiguity:

“The chicken is ready to eat”

Does the word “chicken” denote a live chicken or the cooked chicken meat? If it points to a live chicken, the meaning will be “The chicken is ready to eat its food”. Otherwise, it means “The cooked chicken is ready to be served for someone to eat”.

Also, the word “ready” is ambiguous and have two possible senses here. One is “cooked for eat” and the other is “gear up to eat”.


What is the challenge?

The challenge in lexical ambiguity is to understand the correct sense of a word with respect to the context in which it is used.



Part-of-speech tagging, and word sense disambiguation.


Syntactic ambiguity:

“The boy saw a girl in the bus”

This sentence would be understood in two ways based on the way we connect the prepositional phrase “in the bus”. Possible understanding would be “The boy who was in the bus saw the girl”, “The boy saw the girl where the girl is in the bus”.


What is the challenge?

The challenge in syntactic ambiguity is to connect the prepositional phrase (“in the bus”) with subject or object.



Parsing and parse trees


Semantic ambiguity:

“Raghu and Geetha are married”

Possible interpretations would be (a) “Raghu and Geetha both are married to each other”, (b) “Raghu is married and Geetha is also married, but not to each other”.

What is the challenge?

Though the words present in the sentence is correctly understood, still there may be more than one ways to understand the sentence as a whole.


Apart from these, the following are the knowledge required to resolve ambiguity in general in natural languge processing; 

  • Phonetics, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics, Pragmatics, and Discourse.




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