ISCL Pro-/Hauptseminar
Summer Semester 2010, Prof. Meurers & Dr. Wunsch

Current Approaches to Dependency Parsing

Last update: April 14, 2011


Dependency grammar is an increasingly important grammar representation in computational linguistics, with a firm foundation in theoretical and descriptive linguistics. It is particularly well-suited for languages with relatively free word order and supports a transparent mapping from the string to a functor-argument representation needed for many computational applications. Dependency representations also are the new emerging standard for comparing the result of syntactic analysis across different grammar formalisms and parsing approaches.

This seminar will introduce the approaches to dependency parsing, existing implementations, and current research issues. Student projects will explore the training and evaluation of different parsing strategies, including the question of mapping existing treebank annotation schemes to dependency representations for training and testing of parsers.


Note that the following session plan is subject to change; it only constitutes the current state of our planning as the semester unfolds.

  1. Wednesday, April 14
  2. Monday, April 19
  3. Wednesday, April 21
  4. Monday, April 26
  5. Wednesday, April 28
  6. Monday, May 3
  7. Wednesday, May 5
  8. Monday, May 10
  9. Wednesday, May 12
  10. Monday, May 17
  11. Wednesday, May 19
  12. Monday, May 24: Holiday
  13. Wednesday, May 26: Holiday
  14. Monday, May 31
  15. Wednesday, June 2
  16. Monday, June 7
  17. Wednesday, June 9
  18. Monday, June 14
  19. Wednesday, June 16
  20. Monday, June 21
  21. Wednesday, June 23
  22. Monday, June 28
  23. Wednesday, June 30
  24. Monday, July 5
  25. Wednesday, July 7
  26. Monday, July 12
  27. Wednesday, July 14


Course meets: in Seminarraum 1.13, Blochbau (Wilhelmstr. 19)

Credits and Campus:

Syllabus (this file):

Moodle page:

Nature of course and our expectations: This is a Pro-/Hauptseminar intended to provide an overview of the current approaches in this active research area. Each participant is expected to

  1. regularly and actively participate in class, read the papers assigned by any of the presenters and post a question on Moodle to the“Reading Discussion Forum” on each reading at the latest on the day before it is discussed in class. (30% of grade for Hauptseminar, 50% for Proseminar)

    Note: Following the rules of the Neuphilologische Fakultät, missing more than two meetings unexcused, automatically results in failing the class.

  2. explore and present a topic (30% of grade for Hauptseminar, 50% for Proseminar):
  3. for a Hauptseminar Schein, work out a term paper (40% of grade for Hauptseminar)

Academic conduct and misconduct: Research is driven by discussion and free exchange of ideas, motivations, and perspectives. So you are encouraged to work in groups, discuss, and exchange ideas. At the same time, the foundation of the free exchange of ideas is that everyone is open about where they obtained which information. Concretely, this means you are expected to always make explicit when you’ve worked on something as a team – and keep in mind that being part of a team always means sharing the work.

For text you write, you always have to provide explicit references for any ideas or passages you reuse from somewhere else. Note that this includes text “found” on the web, where you should cite the url of the web site in case no more official publication is available.

Class etiquette: Please do not read or work on materials for other classes in our seminar. Come to class on time and do not pack up early. When our seminar meets in the computer lab, only use the computers when you are asked to do a specific activity – do not read email or browse the web. All portable electronic devices such as cell phones should be switched off for the entire length of the flight, oops, class. If for some reason, you must leave early or you have an important call coming in, or you have to miss class for an important reason, please let Detmar or Holger know before class.


   Boyd, A., M. Dickinson & D. Meurers (2008). On Detecting Errors in Dependency Treebanks. Research on Language and Computation 6(2), 113–137. URL

   Carroll, J., G. Minnen & T. Briscoe (2003). Parser evaluation: using a grammatical relation annotation scheme. In A. Abeillé (ed.), Treebanks: Building and Using Parsed Corpora, Dordrecht: Kluwer.

   Covington, M. A. (2001). A Fundamental Algorithm for Dependency Parsing. In J. A. Miller & J. W. Smith (eds.), Proceedings of the 39th Annual ACM Southeast Conference. pp. 95—-102. URL

   Debusmann, R. (2006). Extensible Dependency Grammar: A Modular Grammar Formalism Based on Multigraph Dimension. Ph.D. thesis, Universität des Saarlandes.

   Dickinson, M. & M. Ragheb (2009). Dependency Annotation for Learner Corpora. In Proceedings of the Eighth Workshop on Treebanks and Linguistic Theories (TLT-8). Milan, Italy. URL

   Foth, K. A., M. Daum & W. Menzel (2004). A broad-coverage parser for German based on defeasible constraints. In In KONVENS 2004, Beiträge zur 7. Konferenz zur Verarbeitung natürlicher Sprache. pp. 45–52. URL

   Hall, J., J. Nilsson & J. Nivre (2009). Homepage of MaltParser. URL

   Kübler, S., R. McDonald & J. Nivre (2009). Dependency Parsing. In G. Hirst (ed.), Synthesis Lectures on Human Language Technologies, Morgan & Claypool Publishers.

   McDonald, R. & J. Baldridge (2009). Homepage of MSTParser. URL

   McDonald, R., K. Lerman & F. Pereira (2006). Multilingual dependency analysis with a two-stage discriminative parser. In CoNLL-X ’06: Proceedings of the Tenth Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning. Morristown, NJ, USA: Association for Computational Linguistics, pp. 216–220. URL

   Mel’čuk, I. (1988). Dependency Syntax: Theory and Practice. State University of New York Press.

   Menzel, W. (2010). CDG homepage. URL

   Nivre, J. (2005). Pseudo-Projective Dependency Parsing. In Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics. URL

   Nivre, J., J. Nilsson, J. Hall, A. Chanev, G. Eryigit, S. Kübler, S. Marinov & E. Marsi (2007). MaltParser: A Language-Independent System for Data-Driven Dependency Parsing. Natural Language Engineering 13(1), 1–41. URL

   Schneider, G. (2008). Hybrid long-distance functional dependency parsing. Ph.D. thesis, University of Zurich. URL

   Versley, Y. (2005). Parser Evaluation across Text Types Fourth Workshop on Treebanks and Linguistic Theories. In Proceedings of the Fourth Workshop on Treebanks and Linguistic Theories (TLT-05). Barcelona, Spain. URL