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RE: issue-68 from an annotation representation point of view, with potential implications for annotatorsRef and standoff markup

From: Lieske, Christian <christian.lieske@sap.com>
Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2013 08:33:40 +0100
To: Felix Sasaki <fsasaki@w3.org>, "public-multilingualweb-lt@w3.org" <public-multilingualweb-lt@w3.org>
Message-ID: <8EA44C66E2911C4AB21558F4720695DC60DA001D4A@DEWDFECCR01.wdf.sap.corp>
Hi Felix,

Thanks for all of the work you put into this. Your analysis and suggestions have informed my own understanding of the challenge and possible solution.

Although details of your suggestion (e.g.  what I would phrase as "only generate stand-off if the inline place already has been taken") may require additional discussions, it would be great if at least the Working Group members would be positive about them.


From: Felix Sasaki [mailto:fsasaki@w3.org]
Sent: Sonntag, 27. Januar 2013 08:25
To: public-multilingualweb-lt@w3.org
Subject: issue-68 from an annotation representation point of view, with potential implications for annotatorsRef and standoff markup

Hi all,

sorry, this is going to be long ... but please have a look, esp. the implementers (both consumers and producers) of terminology and disambiguation.

in the last 10 1/2 months, since Tadej's presentation at the Dublin workshop, we had a lot of discussions on disambiguation, and sometimes (as now) including terminology. But it seems that we never discussed whether ITS2 approach of selection (global, local, inheritence, overriding (partial or not)...) is suitable for this type of information.

By "this type" I mean annotation of linguistic information. Most ITS2 and ITS1 data categories are process related (e.g. "Don't translate this ..."), but both terminology and what's now called disambiguation are information that you find in linguistic corpora and processing tools. Now, my point is that in both in such natural language processing tool chains and related corpora, a representation of information *inline per document node* is rather the exception. Mostly you have *standoff information*, that is a complete seperation of information from actual content - as in NIF.

Why is that? In linguistic annotation it is common that you have several layers of information, like our lexical, ontological etc. information. Some of these might be complex in itself (e.g. named entities), some of these might be related to others (e.g. an ontological concept related to a lexical item). I won't try to define these layers here - but my point is that due to the complexity of representing such information inline, nearly nobody is trying to represent several layers at the same time inline. The common approach is rather to have a base layer, and then pointers from the various annotation layers.

In a sense you can describe NIF as an approach of taking character offsets as the implicit base layer (implicit because characters don't need explicit anchors). The TEI here
provides an example for an offset using words as the base unit, with exlicit xml:id attributes.

So far we haven't taken this approach for terminology or disambiguation. This is why we had to came of with 16+ attributes: if you want to do everything "inline", you need to differenciate attribute names and come up with a monster data category. Inline annotations are just not suitable for such information.

So, the first idea behind below approach is: if you want to represent just one linguistic layer (or "qualifier" in Christian's mail at
) , you use "tan-type" attribute to differentiate annotations. That leads to following models inline models:

1) A term has its-tan-type with value "term" and optional its-tan-confidence, its-tan-ident-ref, and its-tan-info-ref. Example:
<span its-tan-type="term" its-tan-ident-ref="http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37"<http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37> its-tan-info-ref="http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37/description"<http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37/description> its-tan-confidence="1.0">Dublin</span>
Comparison to current ITS1 "Terminology":
its-tan-type="term" plays the role of term="yes". its-tan-info-ref plays the role of termInfoRef.  its-tan-ident-ref links to a term data base. its-tan-confidence provide confidence information.
(Esp. at Marcis: I know that "Dublin" is a bad candidate for a term, I'm just trying to exemplify the annotation approach here)

2) An entity has its-tan-type with value "entity" and optional its-tan-confidence, its-tan-ident-ref, and its-tan-class-ref. Example:
<span its-tan-type="entity" its-tan-ident-ref="http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin"<http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin> its-tan-class-ref=" http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place" its-tan-confidence="0.7">Dublin</span>

So above is only different naming compared to current "Terminology" and Disambiguation. Below is now the standoff approach. The processing expectation for tools *producing the annotation* is like this:
- If there is no inline annotation, just create it (e.g. 1) or 2))
- If there is inline annotation, check if there is an id attribute (in HTML) or xml:id (if XML serizalization of HTML is used and with lower precedence compared to id). For formats other than HTML, add xml:id if possible or use the id attribute appropriate for that format.

Then, for creating standoff annotations, add an "its:textAnalyticsAnnotations" element to the document, e.g. in HTML "script" if needed.

Let's assume before annotation we have
<span its-tan-type="entity" its-tan-ident-ref="http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin"<http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin> its-tan-class-ref="http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place"<http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place> its-tan-confidence="0.7">Dublin</span>
Then after annotation we would have
<span its-tan-type="entity" its-tan-ident-ref="http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin"<http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin> its-tan-class-ref="http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place"<http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place> its-tan-confidence="0.7" id="a8">Dublin</span>
and this:
<its:textAnalyticsAnnotation ref="a8" its-tan-type="term" its-tan-ident-ref="http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37"<http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37> its-tan-info-ref="http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37/description"<http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37/description> its-tan-confidence="1.0"/>

Let's now assume that before annotation we have
<span its-tan-type="term" its-tan-ident-ref="http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37"<http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37> its-tan-info-ref="http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37/description"<http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37/description> its-tan-confidence="1.0">Dublin</span>
Then after annotation we would have
<span its-tan-type="term" its-tan-ident-ref="http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37"<http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37> its-tan-info-ref="http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37/description"<http://termdatabase.example.com/entry37/description> its-tan-confidence="1.0" id="a8">Dublin</span>
and this:
<its:textAnalyticsAnnotations annotatorsRef="tan|tool-x">
<its:textAnalyticsAnnotation ref="a8" its-tan-type="entity" its-tan-ident-ref="http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin"<http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin> its-tan-class-ref="http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place"<http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place> its-tan-confidence="0.7"/>

Now, if several "entity" annotation tools have been used, we could also have
<its:textAnalyticsAnnotation ref="a8" its-tan-type="entity" its-tan-ident-ref="http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin"<http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin> its-tan-class-ref="http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place"<http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place> its-tan-confidence="0.7" annotatorsRef="tan|tool-x"/>
<its:textAnalyticsAnnotation ref="a8" its-tan-type="entity" its-tan-ident-ref="http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin"<http://dbpedia.org/resource/Dublin> its-tan-class-ref="http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place"<http://nerd.eurecom.fr/ontology#Place> its-tan-confidence="0.4" annotatorsRef="tan|tool-y"/>

Above approach would also influence the consumption of this data category, and of annotatorsRef:

- A consuming tools goes through the document and gathers all textAnalyticsAnnotations elements
- It then goes through the document. For each element node
* check for existing inline markup. If it's available, add it to the list of annotations for that node. Assume the inline version up in the document tree of annotatorsRef to be responsible for the annotation of that markup.
* check the accumulated standoff textAnalyticsAnnotations elements for occurrences of IDs that match the node. If there is such an ID, add the related annotation to the list for the node, including the additional annotatorsRef tool, e.g. tool-x or tool-y in the above case.

In summary, this standoff tries to solve several issues:

- avoid the 16+ inline attribute monster data category
- allow for multiple annotations of the same span, with different tools
- avoid the ITS1/2 or general inline annotation issues with inheritance and overriding - as with the standoff approach at exemplified at
annotation information is just accumulated for a given base item (in our case, element nodes with an ID).

I'm not yet asking for this change, but I see it as a way forward that could make the life of both annotation producers (Marcis and Tadej) and consumers (Yves et al.) simpler. So I'm eager to hear thoughts on this :)


- Felix
Received on Monday, 28 January 2013 07:34:13 UTC

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