B2: Cognitive Modelling of Information Density for Discourse Relations

Project B2 investigates rational models of language processing at the level of coherence relations. A central aim of the project is to jointly model the likelihood of communicative success (conveying the intended relation) and the linguistic encoding of a discourse relation in terms of connective choice (or omission of an explicit connective). To this end, we explore the relationship between the uniform information density hypothesis and pragmatic rational models of communication, such as the rational speech act model (RSA). A modeling bottleneck lies in the small amount of training data for building automatic discourse relation parsers that can estimate discourse relation surprisal. This will be addressed using crowd-sourced annotations, as well as machine learning methods that enable us to exploit additional weaker signals from related tasks and explicitation of coherence relations during human translation.



Evers-Vermeul, Jaqueline; Hoek, Jet; Scholman, Merel

On temporality in discourse annotation: Theoretical and practical considerations Journal Article

Dialogue and Discourse, 8(2) , pp. 1-20, 2017.


Rutherford, Attapol ; Demberg, Vera ; Xue, Nianwen

A systematic study of neural discourse models for implicit discourse relation Inproceedings

European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL), 2017.


Scholman, Merel; Demberg, Vera

Crowdsourcing discourse interpretations: On the influence of context and the reliability of a connective insertion task Inproceedings

Linguistic Annotation Workshop, 2017.


Scholman, Merel; Demberg, Vera

Examples and specifications that prove a point: Distinguishing between elaborative and argumentative discourse relations Journal Article

Dialogue and Discourse, 8(2) , pp. 53-86, 2017.


Merel, Scholman; Hannah, Rohde; Demberg, Vera

"On the one hand" as a cue to anticipate upcoming discourse structure Journal Article

Journal of Memory and Language, 97 , pp. 47-60, 2017.


Shi, Wei; Demberg, Vera

On the need of cross validation for discourse relation classification Inproceedings

European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL), 2017.


Shi, Wei; Yung, Frances; Rubino, Raphael; Demberg, Vera

Using explicit discourse connectives in translation for implicit discourse relation classification Inproceedings

8th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing, 2017.


Hoek, Jet ; Scholman, Merel

Evaluating discourse annotation: Some recent insights and new approaches Inproceedings

Proceedings of the 13th Joint ISO-ACL Workshop on Interoperable Semantic Annotation (ISA-13), 2017.



Sayeed, Asad; Hong, Xudong; Demberg, Vera

Roleo: Visualising Thematic Fit Spaces on the Web Inproceedings

Proceedings of ACL-2016 System Demonstrations, pp. 139–144, Association for Computational Linguistics, Berlin, Germany, 2016.

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Pusse, Florian; Sayeed, Asad; Demberg, Vera

LingoTurk: managing crowdsourced tasks for psycholinguistics Inproceedings

Proceedings of the 2016 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Demonstrations, pp. 57–61, Association for Computational Linguistics, San Diego, California, 2016.

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Sayeed, Asad; Greenberg, Clayton; Demberg, Vera

Thematic fit evaluation: an aspect of selectional preferences Journal Article

Proceedings of the 1st Workshop on Evaluating Vector Space Representations for NLP, pp. 99–105, 2016, ISBN: 9781945626142.


Demberg, Vera; Sayeed, Asad

The Frequency of Rapid Pupil Dilations as a Measure of Linguistic Processing Difficulty Journal Article

PLOS ONE, 11 (1), 2016.

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Ines, Rehbein; Merel, Scholman; Vera, Demberg

Disco-SPICE (Spoken conversations from the SPICE-Ireland corpus annotated with discourse relations) Inproceedings

Annotating discourse relations in spoken language: A comparison of the PDTB and CCR frameworks. Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 16), Portorož, Slovenia, 2016.

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Rehbein, Ines; Scholman, Merel; Demberg, Vera

Annotating Discourse Relations in Spoken Language: A Comparison of the PDTB and CCR Frameworks Inproceedings

Calzolari, Nicoletta ; Choukri, Khalid ; Declerck, Thierry ; Grobelnik, Marko ; Maegaard, Bente ; Mariani, Joseph ; Moreno, Asuncion ; Odijk, Jan ; Piperidis, Stelios (Ed.): Proceedings of the Tenth International Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC 2016), European Language Resources Association (ELRA), Portorož, Slovenia, 2016, ISBN: 978-2-9517408-9-1.

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Asr, Fatemeh Torabi; Demberg, Vera

But vs. Although under the microscope Inproceedings

Proceedings of the 38th Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, pp. 366–371, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA, 2016.


Rutherford, Attapol T; Demberg, Vera; Xue, Nianwen

Neural Network Models for Implicit Discourse Relation Classification in English and Chinese without Surface Features Journal Article

CoRR, abs/1606.0 , 2016.

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Greenberg, Clayton; Demberg, Vera; Sayeed, Asad

Verb Polysemy and Frequency Effects in Thematic Fit Modeling Inproceedings

Proceedings of the 6th Workshop on Cognitive Modeling and Computational Linguistics, pp. 48–57, Association for Computational Linguistics, Denver, Colorado, 2015.

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Asr, Fatemeh Torabi; Demberg, Vera

A Distributional Account of Discourse Connectives and its Effect on Fine-grained Inferences Inproceedings

Text-link Conference, Louvain, Belgium., 2015.

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Sayeed, Asad

Representing the Effort in Resolving Ambiguous Scope Inproceedings

Sinn und Bedeutung 20, Tübingen, Germany, 2015.

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Asr, Fatemeh Torabi

An Information Theoretic Approach to Production and Comprehension of Discourse Markers PhD Thesis

Saarland University, 2015.

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Greenberg, Clayton; Sayeed, Asad; Demberg, Vera

Improving Unsupervised Vector-Space Thematic Fit Evaluation via Role-Filler Prototype Clustering Inproceedings

Proceedings of the 2015 Conference of the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Human Language Technologies, pp. 21–31, Association for Computational Linguistics, Denver, Colorado, 2015.

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Asr, Fatemeh Torabi; Demberg, Vera

A Discourse Connector's Distribution Determines Its Interpretation Inproceedings

The 28th CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing 2015, 2015.

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Asr, Fatemeh Torabi; Demberg, Vera

Uniform Information Density at the Level of Discourse Relations: Negation Markers and Discourse Connective Omission Inproceedings

IWCS 2015, pp. 118, 2015.

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Vera, Demberg; Asr, Fatemeh Torabi; Hannah, Rohde; Merel, Scholman

Discourse Expectations Raised by Contrastive Connectives Inproceedings

Conference on Discourse Expectations: Theoretical, Experimental, and Computational Perspectives (DETEC), 2015.

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Sayeed, Asad; Fischer, Stefan; Demberg, Vera

To What Extent Do We Adapt Spoken Word Durations to a Domain? Inproceedings

Architectures and mechanisms for language processing (AMLaP), Malta, 2015.


Sayeed, Asad; Demberg, Vera; Shkadzko, Pavel

An Exploration of Semantic Features in an Unsupervised Thematic Fit Evaluation Framework Conference

IJCoL: Emerging Topics at the First Italian Conference on Computational Linguistics, 1 , 2015.

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Vera Demberg



Frances Pik Yu Yung



Wei Shi