Scary stuff

Someone sent me a link to a blog that discussed some very nerdy endeavors, including a search engine that can "take advantage of the structure and nuances of natural language."

But I found something seemingly nerdier when I followed a link to a Parallel Grammar Project:

The Lexical Functional Grammar (LFG) ParGram project is a collaborative effort involving researchers in industrial and academic institutions around the world. The aim of the project is to produce wide coverage grammars for a wide variety of languages (see participating sites below). These are written collaboratively within the linguistic framework of LFG and with a commonly-agreed-upon set of grammatical features.

Ok, if anyone thinks I'm a linguist, then the fact that I don't know what those people are talking about should prove that I'm just a simple-minded language lover. Even the diagram is baffling, and even sort of scary.

But this might be scarier:

In case you're wondering, here's an explanation:

XLE consists of cutting-edge algorithms for parsing and generating Lexical Functional Grammars (LFGs) along with a rich graphical user interface for writing and debugging such grammars...One of the main goals of the XLE is to parse and generate with LFGs efficiently. This is difficult because the LFG formalism, like most unification-based grammar formalisms, is NP complete. This means that in the worst case the time that it takes to parse or generate with an LFG can be exponential in the length of the input. However, natural languages are mostly context-free equivalent, and one should be able to parse them in mostly cubic time. XLE is designed to automatically take advantage of context-freeness in the grammar of a natural language so that it typically parses in cubic time and generates in linear time. This lets grammar writers write grammars in an expressive formalism without necessarily sacrificing performance.

Ok, I don't know what they're talking about. Which means that the folks who've developed that technology are very smart. And scary.

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