The Informal Language of Measure Expressions on the Web

A study of measure expressions occurring in web pages is presented. It is shown that the expressions can be automatically parsed and evaluated with an error rate of <10%. Quantitative statements in web pages, embodied in measure expressions, are an important source of information for the semantic web and other applications. The web also provides a source of measure expressions that allows the idioms commonly used for such expressions to be identified. We call the language used in these expressions the informal language of measure expressions, and the extent to which it diverges from the forms of expression sanctioned by standards bodies is described using the quantitative results of the analysis. The data used in the study consists of 5,165 expressions divided into development and test sets. The syntax of the expressions is discussed, and elements of a grammar that describes it are presented. Heuristics for dealing with ambiguities in the expressions are described, as are means for dealing with embedded HTML markup and other features of the data.

By: Alan D. Marwick

Published in: RC22964 in 2003


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