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Weight Annotation in Information Extraction

Authors Johannes Doleschal , Benny Kimelfeld, Wim Martens, Liat Peterfreund

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Author Details

Johannes Doleschal
  • University of Bayreuth, Germany
  • Hasselt University, Belgium
Benny Kimelfeld
  • Technion - Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa, Israel
Wim Martens
  • University of Bayreuth, Germany
Liat Peterfreund
  • CNRS, IRIF - Université de Paris, France
  • University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom


We are grateful to Matthias Niewerth for many useful discussions and his help regarding Theorem 7.1 and Shaull Almagor for many helpful comments regarding weighted automata. Furthermore, we thank the anonymous reviewers for ICDT 2020 for many helpful remarks.

Cite AsGet BibTex

Johannes Doleschal, Benny Kimelfeld, Wim Martens, and Liat Peterfreund. Weight Annotation in Information Extraction. In 23rd International Conference on Database Theory (ICDT 2020). Leibniz International Proceedings in Informatics (LIPIcs), Volume 155, pp. 8:1-8:18, Schloss Dagstuhl - Leibniz-Zentrum für Informatik (2020)


The framework of document spanners abstracts the task of information extraction from text as a function that maps every document (a string) into a relation over the document’s spans (intervals identified by their start and end indices). For instance, the regular spanners are the closure under the Relational Algebra (RA) of the regular expressions with capture variables, and the expressive power of the regular spanners is precisely captured by the class of vset-automata - a restricted class of transducers that mark the endpoints of selected spans. In this work, we embark on the investigation of document spanners that can annotate extractions with auxiliary information such as confidence, support, and confidentiality measures. To this end, we adopt the abstraction of provenance semirings by Green et al., where tuples of a relation are annotated with the elements of a commutative semiring, and where the annotation propagates through the (positive) RA operators via the semiring operators. Hence, the proposed spanner extension, referred to as an annotator, maps every string into an annotated relation over the spans. As a specific instantiation, we explore weighted vset-automata that, similarly to weighted automata and transducers, attach semiring elements to transitions. We investigate key aspects of expressiveness, such as the closure under the positive RA, and key aspects of computational complexity, such as the enumeration of annotated answers and their ranked enumeration in the case of numeric semirings. For a number of these problems, fundamental properties of the underlying semiring, such as positivity, are crucial for establishing tractability.

Subject Classification

ACM Subject Classification
  • Information systems → Information extraction
  • Theory of computation → Transducers
  • Theory of computation → Problems, reductions and completeness
  • Theory of computation → Data provenance
  • Information extraction
  • regular document spanners
  • weighted automata
  • provenance semirings
  • K-relations


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