Purdue University Graduate School
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posted on 2024-01-03, 14:06 authored by Mdahsanul KabirMdahsanul Kabir

Semantic pairs, which consist of related entities or concepts, serve as the foundation for comprehending the meaning of language in both written and spoken forms. These pairs enable to grasp the nuances of relationships between words, phrases, or ideas, forming the basis for more advanced language tasks like entity recognition, sentiment analysis, machine translation, and question answering. They allow to infer causality, identify hierarchies, and connect ideas within a text, ultimately enhancing the depth and accuracy of automated language processing.

Nevertheless, the task of extracting semantic pairs from sentences poses a significant challenge, necessitating the relevance of syntactic dependency patterns (SDPs). Thankfully, semantic relationships exhibit adherence to distinct SDPs when connecting pairs of entities. Recognizing this fact underscores the critical importance of extracting these SDPs, particularly for specific semantic relationships like hyponym-hypernym, meronym-holonym, and cause-effect associations. The automated extraction of such SDPs carries substantial advantages for various downstream applications, including entity extraction, ontology development, and question answering. Unfortunately, this pivotal facet of pattern extraction has remained relatively overlooked by researchers in the domains of natural language processing (NLP) and information retrieval.

To address this gap, I introduce an attention-based supervised deep learning model, ASPER. ASPER is designed to extract SDPs that denote semantic relationships between entities within a given sentential context. I rigorously evaluate the performance of ASPER across three distinct semantic relations: hyponym-hypernym, cause-effect, and meronym-holonym, utilizing six datasets. My experimental findings demonstrate ASPER's ability to automatically identify an array of SDPs that mirror the presence of these semantic relationships within sentences, outperforming existing pattern extraction methods by a substantial margin.

Second, I want to use the SDPs to extract semantic pairs from sentences. I choose to extract cause-effect entities from medical literature. This task is instrumental in compiling various causality relationships, such as those between diseases and symptoms, medications and side effects, and genes and diseases. Existing solutions excel in sentences where cause and effect phrases are straightforward, such as named entities, single-word nouns, or short noun phrases. However, in the complex landscape of medical literature, cause and effect expressions often extend over several words, stumping existing methods, resulting in incomplete extractions that provide low-quality, non-informative, and at times, conflicting information. To overcome this challenge, I introduce an innovative unsupervised method for extracting cause and effect phrases, PatternCausality tailored explicitly for medical literature. PatternCausality employs a set of cause-effect dependency patterns as templates to identify the key terms within cause and effect phrases. It then utilizes a novel phrase extraction technique to produce comprehensive and meaningful cause and effect expressions from sentences. Experiments conducted on a dataset constructed from PubMed articles reveal that PatternCausality significantly outperforms existing methods, achieving a remarkable order of magnitude improvement in the F-score metric over the best-performing alternatives. I also develop various PatternCausality variants that utilize diverse phrase extraction methods, all of which surpass existing approaches. PatternCausality and its variants exhibit notable performance improvements in extracting cause and effect entities in a domain-neutral benchmark dataset, wherein cause and effect entities are confined to single-word nouns or noun phrases of one to two words.

Nevertheless, PatternCausality operates within an unsupervised framework and relies heavily on SDPs, motivating me to explore the development of a supervised approach. Although SDPs play a pivotal role in semantic relation extraction, pattern-based methodologies remain unsupervised, and the multitude of potential patterns within a language can be overwhelming. Furthermore, patterns do not consistently capture the broader context of a sentence, leading to the extraction of false-positive semantic pairs. As an illustration, consider the hyponym-hypernym pattern the w of u which can correctly extract semantic pairs for a sentence like the village of Aasu but fails to do so for the phrase the moment of impact. The root cause of this limitation lies in the pattern's inability to capture the nuanced meaning of words and phrases in a sentence and their contextual significance. These observations have spurred my exploration of a third model, DepBERT which constitutes a dependency-aware supervised transformer model. DepBERT's primary contribution lies in introducing the underlying dependency structure of sentences to a language model with the aim of enhancing token classification performance. To achieve this, I must first reframe the task of semantic pair extraction as a token classification problem. The DepBERT model can harness both the tree-like structure of dependency patterns and the masked language architecture of transformers, marking a significant milestone, as most large language models (LLMs) predominantly focus on semantics and word co-occurrence while neglecting the crucial role of dependency architecture.

In summary, my overarching contributions in this thesis are threefold. First, I validate the significance of the dependency architecture within various components of sentences and publish SDPs that incorporate these dependency relationships. Subsequently, I employ these SDPs in a practical medical domain to extract vital cause-effect pairs from sentences. Finally, my third contribution distinguishes this thesis by integrating dependency relations into a deep learning model, enhancing the understanding of language and the extraction of valuable semantic associations.


National Science Foundation (NSF), USA, Grant No. IIS-1909916


Degree Type

  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Computer Science

Campus location

  • Indianapolis

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair


Additional Committee Member 2


Additional Committee Member 3


Additional Committee Member 4