Iterated learning framework for unsupervised part-of-speech induction
Computational approaches to linguistic analysis have been used for more than half a century. The main tools come from the field of Natural Language Processing (NLP) and are based on rule-based or corpora-based (supervised) methods. Despite the undeniable success of supervised learning methods in NLP, they have two main drawbacks: on the practical side, it is expensive to produce the manual annotation (or the rules) required and it is not easy to find annotators for less common languages. A theoretical disadvantage is that the computational analysis produced is tied to a specific theory or annotation scheme. Unsupervised methods offer the possibility to expand our analyses into more resourcepoor languages, and to move beyond the conventional linguistic theories. They are a way of observing patterns and regularities emerging directly from the data and can provide new linguistic insights. In this thesis I explore unsupervised methods for inducing parts of speech across languages. I discuss the challenges in evaluation of unsupervised learning and at the same time, by looking at the historical evolution of part-of-speech systems, I make the case that the compartmentalised, traditional pipeline approach of NLP is not ideal for the task. I present a generative Bayesian system that makes it easy to incorporate multiple diverse features, spanning different levels of linguistic structure, like morphology, lexical distribution, syntactic dependencies and word alignment information that allow for the examination of cross-linguistic patterns. I test the system using features provided by unsupervised systems in a pipeline mode (where the output of one system is the input to another) and show that the performance of the baseline (distributional) model increases significantly, reaching and in some cases surpassing the performance of state-of-the-art part-of-speech induction systems. I then turn to the unsupervised systems that provided these sources of information (morphology, dependencies, word alignment) and examine the way that part-of-speech information influences their inference. Having established a bi-directional relationship between each system and my part-of-speech inducer, I describe an iterated learning method, where each component system is trained using the output of the other system in each iteration. The iterated learning method improves the performance of both component systems in each task. Finally, using this iterated learning framework, and by using parts of speech as the central component, I produce chains of linguistic structure induction that combine all the component systems to offer a more holistic view of NLP. To show the potential of this multi-level system, I demonstrate its use ‘in the wild’. I describe the creation of a vastly multilingual parallel corpus based on 100 translations of the Bible in a diverse set of languages. Using the multi-level induction system, I induce cross-lingual clusters, and provide some qualitative results of my approach. I show that it is possible to discover similarities between languages that correspond to ‘hidden’ morphological, syntactic or semantic elements.