Element classes in contextually specified document structures

poster / demo / art installation
  1. 1. Felix Sasaki

    University of Bielefeld

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Element classes in contextually specified document


University of Bielefeld


University of Tübingen







A common problem in the design of document grammars is to define a content
model which is not too specific, but also not too general. Within the
framework of DTDs, the user is able to specify the content model of an
element like this:
<!ELEMENT word (prefix*, stem+, suffix*)>
This declaration is general enough to annotate word structure in languages
with a agglutination system. But it is not possible to divide words in
several classes, for example a class with words owning one obligatory prefix
or a class with words for which the prefix is optional. If one is able to
define the classes before the process of document creation starts, the
problem might be solved with declarations like the following:
<!ELEMENT word1 (prefix, stem+,suffix*)>
<!ELEMENT word2 (prefix?, stem+,suffix*)>
Three problems remain. First, the user might want to use just one element for
words, not a single declaration for each class of word structures. Second,
the classes might be not defined by the content model, but by the context in
which they appear. An example would be an adjective as an predicate ('Das
Bier ist kalt') vs. adjectives as noun modifiers ('das kalte Bier'), which
show different inflectional patterns. Third, the classification of elements
might emerge during the annotation process or while analyzing the document.
For software or the user, this is too late to change the document

Approach of this paper
To solve these problems, a conceptual and physical separation has to be made.
The document grammar, written within the DTD format or using other schema
languages, contains the most general declaration of a content model like the
one above. Another document contains the declaration of element classes,
defining alternative structural restrictions for the same elements, i.e.
putting restrictions on their context in the document structure. The
structure of such a document can be as follows:
<classlist mode="default">

<class scopus="word">


<moveTest direction="First">prefix</moveTest>



<class scopus="word">


<moveTest direction="First"></moveTest>



<moveTest direction="first">prefix</moveTest>




This document we may call 'class specification document' (CSD). It is
declaring caterpillar expressions, a context specification technique (cf.
Brüggemann-Klein et al. 2000) which is working with basic moves
(up,left,right,first) and basic tests (isFirst, isLast, isLeaf, isRoot). The
caterpillars are organized in classes. Two classes are necessary to divide
the content models above: the first class holds for the word1-content model,
the second class for the word2-content model. The "scopus" element defines
to which element the classes are applied. The meaning of the "mode"
attribute will be explained below.

Areas of usage: Validation, generation and exploration of classes
A CSD might be used in two ways. First, as a supplement to a valid document -
in the sense that the document follows the requirements made by a document
grammar -, the CSD can be used to test if the document is valid to some
element classes, too. Different to document grammars written in schema
languages like DTD or XML Schema (cf. Thompson et al. 01), this validation
process is working upon partial document structures, validating only element
classes declared in the CSD. Also, the classes contain several declarations
for the same element, so that a general type of the element can be defined
and several subtypes, which inherit the characteristics of the super-type.
For example, it is possible to define a general pattern for words, e.g. a
stem followed by an optional suffix, and several subtypes, e.g. a stem
followed by certain suffixes in certain orders.
Second, a CSD can also be used to generate classes. This process will be as
follows: The user defines some classes in a CSD and sets the attribute
"mode" to the value "class generation". The result will be a subset of
classes that is in accordance to the classes defined. This generation of
classes can be regarded as the exploration of an unknown domain. As in the
examples above, the morphological structure of unknown languages is often
explored using hypothesis about patterns common to many languages. A very
general document grammar representing such patterns could be the starting
point of research. With annotated corpora of the language, various
hypothesis about the structure might be formulated as a CSD and tested.

Related work
The approach of this paper is related to two fields of research, certain
annotation schemes and schema languages. In the first field, as a part of
the Text Encoding Initiative (Sperberg-McQueen et al. 1994), the proposal
for the declaration of feature structures is a useful approach for the
declaration of general data structures. The constructions allowed by a CSD
are - in one way - a subset of a feature structure. As a difference to
feature structures, a CSD allows for moves. Another set of annotation
schemes, specialized for dialogue annotation, was developed during the MATE
project. A special focus was put upon the annotation of relations between
certain levels of annotation, for example morphological units and dialogue
acts. The same is true for a CSD. The difference between these two
approaches is that in the MATE project, a single document contains only one
level of annotation, connected to other layers with pointing mechanisms like
XLink (DeRose et al. 2000).
In the second field, schema languages like Schematron seem to be very similar
to CSD. Schematron can be used in the same way, as an supplement for
validating documents with a method going beyond common schema languages. The
difference is that Schematron is making use of XPATH-expressions to validate
document structures. The advantage of XPATH (Clark et al. 1999) is the
ability to navigate to any place in the document structure. This seems to be
a disadvantage as well: with Schematron, it is not possible to write
grammars about documents in a formal sense, because the XPATH Syntax is too
unrestrictive. The CSD is restricted to the caterpillars as the only set of
expressions. This makes it possible to describe the execution of most of the
caterpillar expressions as deterministic, finite-state automata.




Caterpillars: A context specification technique

Markup Languages





XML Path Language (XPath)
Version 1.0. W3C Recommendation 16 November 1999





XML Linking Language (XLink)
Version 1.0. W3C Recommendation 27 June 2001


MATE - Multilevel Annotation, Tools Engineering
Telematics Project LE4-8370

See .

Schematron - An XML Structure Validation Language using
Patterns in Trees

See .



Guidelines for Electronic Text Encoding and Interchange

Oxford University Computing Services





XML Schema Part 1: Structures
W3C Recommendation 2 May 2001


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Conference Info

In review

"New Directions in Humanities Computing"

Hosted at Universität Tübingen (University of Tubingen / Tuebingen)

Tübingen, Germany

July 23, 2002 - July 28, 2008

72 works by 136 authors indexed

Affiliations need to be double-checked.

Conference website: http://web.archive.org/web/20041117094331/http://www.uni-tuebingen.de/allcach2002/

Series: ALLC/EADH (29), ACH/ICCH (22), ACH/ALLC (14)

Organizers: ACH, ALLC

  • Keywords: None
  • Language: English
  • Topics: None