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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Directed random generation of sentences

The problem of producing sentences of a transformational grammar by using a random generator to create phrase structure trees for input to the lexical insertion and transformational phases is discussed. A purely random generator will produce base trees which will be blocked by the transformations, and which are frequently too long to be of practical interest. A solution is offered in the form of a computer program which allows the user to constrain and direct the generation by the simple but powerful device of restricted subtrees. The program is a directed random generator which accepts as input a subtree with restrictions and produces around it a tree which satisfies the restrictions and is ready for the next phase of the grammar. The underlying linguistic model is that of Noam Chomsky, as presented in Aspects of the Theory of Syntax. The program is written in FORTRAN IV for the IBM 360/67 and is part of a unified computer system for transformational grammar. It is currently being used with several partial grammars of English.

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