Word-Sense Disambiguation

Mark Stevenson and Yorick Wilks

in The Oxford Handbook of Computational Linguistics

Published in print January 2005 | ISBN: 9780199276349
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Word-Sense Disambiguation

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  • Linguistics
  • Computational Linguistics
  • Semantics



Word-sense disambiguation (WSD) is the process of identifying the meanings of words in context. This article begins with discussing the origins of the problem in the earliest machine translation systems. Early attempts to solve the WSD problem suffered from a lack of coverage. The main approaches to tackle the problem were dictionary-based, connectionist, and statistical strategies. This article concludes with a review of evaluation strategies for WSD and possible applications of the technology. WSD is an ‘intermediate’ task in language processing: like part-of-speech tagging or syntactic analysis, it is unlikely that anyone other than linguists would be interested in its results for their own sake. ‘Final’ tasks produce results of use to those without a specific interest in language and often make use of ‘intermediate’ tasks. WSD is a long-standing and important problem in the field of language processing.

Keywords: word-sense disambiguation; machine translation systems; evaluation strategies; part-of-speech tagging; syntactic analysis; language processing

Article.  6566 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Computational Linguistics ; Semantics

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