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Browsing by Subject "toponym recognition"

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  • Leppämäki, Tatu (2022)
    Ever more data is available and shared through the internet. The big data masses often have a spatial dimension and can take many forms, one of which are digital texts, such as articles or social media posts. The geospatial links in these texts are made through place names, also called toponyms, but traditional GIS methods are unable to deal with the fuzzy linguistic information. This creates the need to transform the linguistic location information to an explicit coordinate form. Several geoparsers have been developed to recognize and locate toponyms in free-form texts: the task of these systems is to be a reliable source of location information. Geoparsers have been applied to topics ranging from disaster management to literary studies. Major language of study in geoparser research has been English and geoparsers tend to be language-specific, which threatens to leave the experiences provided by studying and expressed in smaller languages unexplored. This thesis seeks to answer three research questions related to geoparsing: What are the most advanced geoparsing methods? What linguistic and geographical features complicate this multi-faceted problem? And how to evaluate the reliability and usability of geoparsers? The major contributions of this work are an open-source geoparser for Finnish texts, Finger, and two test datasets, or corpora, for testing Finnish geoparsers. One of the datasets consists of tweets and the other of news articles. All of these resources, including the relevant code for acquiring the test data and evaluating the geoparser, are shared openly. Geoparsing can be divided into two sub-tasks: recognizing toponyms amid text flows and resolving them to the correct coordinate location. Both tasks have seen a recent turn to deep learning methods and models, where the input texts are encoded as, for example, word embeddings. Geoparsers are evaluated against gold standard datasets where toponyms and their coordinates are marked. Performance is measured on equivalence and distance-based metrics for toponym recognition and resolution respectively. Finger uses a toponym recognition classifier built on a Finnish BERT model and a simple gazetteer query to resolve the toponyms to coordinate points. The program outputs structured geodata, with input texts and the recognized toponyms and coordinate locations. While the datasets represent different text types in terms of formality and topics, there is little difference in performance when evaluating Finger against them. The overall performance is comparable to the performance of geoparsers of English texts. Error analysis reveals multiple error sources, caused either by the inherent ambiguousness of the studied language and the geographical world or are caused by the processing itself, for example by the lemmatizer. Finger can be improved in multiple ways, such as refining how it analyzes texts and creating more comprehensive evaluation datasets. Similarly, the geoparsing task should move towards more complex linguistic and geographical descriptions than just toponyms and coordinate points. Finger is not, in its current state, a ready source of geodata. However, the system has potential to be the first step for geoparsers for Finnish and it can be a steppingstone for future applied research.