Algorithms for Analysing the Temporal Structure of Discourse
We describe a method for analysing the temporal structure of a discourse which takes into account the effects of tense, aspect, temporal adverbials and rhetorical structure and which minimises unnecessary ambiguity in the temporal structure. It is part of a discourse grammar implemented in Carpenter's ALE formalism. The method for building up the temporal structure of the discourse combines constraints and preferences: we use constraints to reduce the number of possible structures, exploiting the HPSG type hierarchy and unification for this purpose; and we apply preferences to choose between the remaining options using a temporal centering mechanism. We end by recommending that an underspecified representation of the structure using these techniques be used to avoid generating the temporal/rhetorical structure until higher-level information can be used to disambiguate.