Normalisation of imprecise temporal expressions extracted from text

Hegler Tissot, Angus Roberts, Leon Derczynski, Marcos Didonet Del Fabro

Research output: Journal Article or Conference Article in JournalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Information extraction systems and techniques have been largely used to deal with the increasing amount of unstructured data available nowadays. Time is among the different kinds of information that may be extracted from such unstructured data sources, including text documents. However, the inability to correctly identify and extract temporal information from text makes it difficult to understand how the extracted events are organised in a chronological order. Furthermore, in many situations, the meaning of temporal expressions (timexes) is imprecise, such as in “less than 2 years” and “several weeks”, and cannot be accurately normalised, leading to interpretation errors. Although there are some approaches that enable representing imprecise timexes, they are not designed to be applied to specific scenarios and difficult to generalise. This paper presents a novel methodology to analyse and normalise imprecise temporal expressions by representing temporal imprecision in the form of membership functions, based on human interpretation of time in two different languages (Portuguese and English). Each resulting model is a generalisation of probability distributions in the form of trapezoidal and hexagonal fuzzy membership functions. We use an adapted F1-score to guide the choice of the best models for each kind of imprecise timex and a weighted F1-score (F13D) as a complementary metric in order to identify relevant differences when comparing two normalisation models. We apply the proposed methodology for three distinct classes of imprecise timexes, and the resulting models give distinct insights in the way each kind of temporal expression is interpreted.
Original languageEnglish
JournalKnowledge and Information Systems
Pages (from-to)1-34
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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