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### An Efficient Probabilistic Context-Free Parsing Algorithm that Computes Prefix Probabilities

**1994-11-28**

9411029 | cmp-lg

We describe an extension of Earley's parser for stochastic context-free
grammars that computes the following quantities given a stochastic context-free
grammar and an input string: a) probabilities of successive prefixes being
generated by the grammar; b) probabilities of substrings being generated by the
nonterminals, including the entire string being generated by the grammar; c)
most likely (Viterbi) parse of the string; d) posterior expected number of
applications of each grammar production, as required for reestimating rule
probabilities. (a) and (b) are computed incrementally in a single left-to-right
pass over the input. Our algorithm compares favorably to standard bottom-up
parsing methods for SCFGs in that it works efficiently on sparse grammars by
making use of Earley's top-down control structure. It can process any
context-free rule format without conversion to some normal form, and combines
computations for (a) through (d) in a single algorithm. Finally, the algorithm
has simple extensions for processing partially bracketed inputs, and for
finding partial parses and their likelihoods on ungrammatical inputs.

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