Split or Merge: Which is Better for Unsupervised RST Parsing?

Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) parsing is crucial for many downstream NLP tasks that require a discourse structure for a text. Most of the previous RST parsers have been based on supervised learning approaches. That is, they require an annotated corpus of sufficient size and quality, and heavily rely on the language and domain dependent corpus. In this paper, we present two language-independent unsupervised RST parsing methods based on dynamic programming. The first one builds the optimal tree in terms of a dissimilarity score function that is defined for splitting a text span into smaller ones. The second builds the optimal tree in terms of a similarity score function that is defined for merging two adjacent spans into a large one. Experimental results on English and German RST treebanks showed that our parser based on span merging achieved the best score, around 0.8 F$_1$ score, which is close to the scores of the previous supervised parsers.

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