Similarity-based estimation of word cooccurrence probabilities

Ido Dagan, Fernando Pereira, Lillian Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalConference articlepeer-review

73 Scopus citations


In many applications of natural language processing it is necessary to determine the likelihood of a given word combination. For example, a speech recognizer may need to determine which of the two word combinations "eat a peach" and "eat a beach" is more likely. Statistical NLP methods determine the likelihood of a word combination according to its frequency in a training corpus. However, the nature of language is such that many word combinations are infrequent and do not occur in a given corpus. In this work we propose a method for estimating the probability of such previously unseen word combinations using available information on "most similar" words. We describe a probabilistic word association model based on distributional word similarity, and apply it to improving probability estimates for unseen word bigrams in a variant of Katz's back-off model. The similarity-based method yields a 20% perplexity improvement in the prediction of unseen bigrams and statistically significant reductions in speech-recognition error.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)272-278
Number of pages7
JournalProceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes
Event32nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics, ACL 1994 - Las Cruces, United States
Duration: 27 Jun 199430 Jun 1994

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 1994, Association for Computational Linguistics.


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