More is not always better: balancing sense distributions for all-words Word Sense Disambiguation

M.C. Postma, R. Izquierdo, P.T.J.M. Vossen

Research output: Chapter in Book / Report / Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review


Current Word Sense Disambiguation systems show an extremely poor performance on low fre-
quent senses, which is mainly caused by the difference in sense distributions between training
and test data. The main focus in tackling this problem has been on acquiring more data or se-
lecting a single predominant sense and not necessarily on the meta properties of the data itself.
We demonstrate that these properties, such as the volume, provenance, and balancing, play an
important role with respect to system performance. In this paper, we describe a set of experi-
ments to analyze these meta properties in the framework of a state-of-the-art WSD system when
evaluated on the SemEval-2013 English all-words dataset. We show that volume and provenance
are indeed important, but that approximating the perfect balancing of the selected training data
leads to an improvement of 21 points and exceeds state-of-the-art systems by 14 points while
using only simple features. We therefore conclude that unsupervised acquisition of training data
should be guided by strategies aimed at matching meta properties.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of COLING 2016, the 26th International Conference on Computational Linguistics: Technical Papers
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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