Word sense disambiguation is a core research problem in computational linguistics, which was recognized at the beginning of the scientific interest in machine translation and artificial intelligence. And yet no book has been fully devoted to review the wide variety of approaches to solving the problem. The time is right for such a book.
This book had its genesis over five years ago when Nancy Ide, series co-editor of then Kluwer's, now Springer's, Text, Speech, and Language Technology series, approached us with the project. Word sense disambiguation is an active and quickly progressing research field, so we thought it far more beneficial to the research community if we were to enlist the main experts to each give their own view of the field.
Being the first major book on the topic, and with the hope of it becoming the definitive reference, we endeavoured to fashion a coherent, consistent, critical, and readable survey of the current state of the art. We started by sketching an overview of the main topics that should be covered, and then approached experts in the field with desiderata for each chapter. We requested that authors give a general overview of their topic and proceed with a thorough exposition of the theory, methodology, algorithms, critical analysis, experimentation, results, and open issues. We are indebted to all of the authors, who worked with us most patiently.
The manuscript has taken time to produce, having been through numerous reviews and revisions along the way. Many difficult decisions were made in the attempt to best embrace all of the important research in the field, and to keep up with new developments. We apologize if we have missed something.
Please visit the book website, www.wsdbook.org, for the latest information and updates.
Word sense disambiguation is a fascinating topic; we hope you enjoy reading this book as much as we did creating it!
First all, it is the chapter authors who created the book; we thank them all for exceeding their remits and for their patience during the lengthy reviewing cycles. We owe the existence of this book to Nancy Ide, the series co-editor.
A few people gave us encouragement and feedback at various stages about the content and organization of the book. We are grateful to Robert Dale, David Farwell, Graeme Hirst, Eduard Hovy, Inderjeet Mani, Pete Whitelock, and David Yarowsky.
Three anonymous reviewers helped us get around the weak points. We also thank the team at Kluwer and Springer for their support: Tamara Welschot, Jacqueline Bergsma, Helen van der Stelt, and Jolanda Voogd (Associate Publishing Editor).
Phil was supported by Sharp Laboratories of Europe, and Eneko by the IXA research group.
Finally, this book is dedicated to our families, who had to sacrifice their time with us for the sake of this book.
Phil Edmonds and Eneko Agirre
27 January 2006