Comparing Computational Models of Selectional Preferences - Second-Order Co-Occurrence Vs. Latent Semantic Clusters

This paper presents a comparison of three computational approaches to selectional preferences: (i) an intuitive distributional approach that uses second-order co-occurrence of predicates and complement properties; (ii) an EM-based clustering approach that models the strengths of predicate--noun relationships by latent semantic clusters (Rooth et al., 1999); and (iii) an extension of the latent semantic clusters by incorporating the MDL principle into the EM training, thus explicitly modelling the predicate--noun selectional preferences by WordNet classes (Schulte im Walde et al., 2008). Concerning the distributional approach, we were interested not only in how well the model describes selectional preferences, but moreover which second-order properties are most salient. For example, a typical direct object of the verb 'drink' is usually fluid, might be hot or cold, can be bought, might be bottled, etc. The general question we ask is: what characterises the predicate's restrictions to the semantic realisation of its complements? Our second interest lies in the actual comparison of the models: How does a very simple distributional model compare to much more complex approaches, and which representation of selectional preferences is more appropriate, using (i) second-order properties, (ii) an implicit generalisation of nouns (by clusters), or (iii) an explicit generalisation of nouns by WordNet classes within clusters? We describe various experiments on German data and two evaluations, and demonstrate that the simple distributional model outperforms the more complex cluster-based models in most cases, but does itself not always beat the powerful frequency baseline
Published in 2010