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Five Types of Structure in Computational Models of Discourse

Discourse in Computational Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence

This article is a short extract of an aspect of the text Discourse in Computational Linguistics and Artificial Intelligence written by Johanna D. Moore and Peter Wiemer-Hastings. I will try to sum up the five.

  1. Informational structure.
  2. Attentional structure.

1. Intentional structure

The roles that utterances play in the speaker’s communicate plan. The speaker plans to achieve a desired effect on the hearer’s mental state or conversational record.

2. Informational structure

Semantic relationships between information in successive utterances.

3. Attentional structure

Humans “focus” or “center” their attention on a small set of entities and attention shifts to new entities in predictable ways.

4. Information structure

There are two dimensions to information structure:

  1. What the speaker takes to be in contrast with things a hearer is or can be attending to.”

5. Rhetorical structure

This notion within computational linguistics can be used to explain a wide range of discourse phenomena.


Moore, J. D., & Wiemer-Hastings, P. (2003). Discourse in computational linguistics and artificial intelligence. Handbook of discourse processes, 439–486.

AI Policy and Ethics at Student at University of Copenhagen MSc in Social Data Science. All views are my own.