Semiautomatic disabbreviation of technical text
Rowe, Neil C.
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Abbreviations adversely affect information retrieval and text comprehensibility. We describe a software tool to decipher abbreviations by finding their whole-word equivalents or "disabbreviations". It uses a large English dictionary and a rule-based system to guess the most-likely candidates, with users having final approval. The rule-based system uses a variety of knowledge to limit its search, including phonetics, known methods of constructing multiword abbreviations, and analogies to previous abbreviations. The tool is especially helpful for retrieval from computer programs, a form of technical text in which abbreviations are notoriously common; disabbreviation of programs can make programs more reusable, improving software engineering. It also helps decipher the often-specialized abbreviations in technical captions. Experimental results confirm that the prototype tool is easy to use, finds many correct disabbreviations, and improves text comprehensibility.
This paper appeared in Information Processing and Management, 31, no. 6 (1995), 851-857.
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