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A method of inferring a formal hierarchical structure from informally structured text data

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000022111D
Original Publication Date: 2004-Feb-25
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2004-Feb-25
Document File: 2 page(s) / 41K

Publishing Venue

IBM

Abstract

This disclosure describes a forgiving parser capable of identifying the best interpretation of informally structured hierarchical data and extracting a formal hierarchy to an internal representation within a software tool. The disclosure has two elements: 1) a user interface for identifying and resolving ambiguities and 2) a flexible parser.

This text was extracted from a PDF file.
This is the abbreviated version, containing approximately 53% of the total text.

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A method of inferring a formal hierarchical structure from informally structured text data

Many domains have a requirement to create, present and manipulate hierarchical data. Examples include software to work with taxonomies, bills of materials, organization charts, module calling charts and task models. Users typically interact with dialogs provided by the tool to create and manipulate these hierarchies.

    In some cases, data describing a set of hierarchical relationships already exists in an informal format. For example, e-mail, word processor documents or spreadsheets may contain definitions of hierarchies in which the relationship between elements is implied by either indentation or numbering but no formal syntax has been followed. Users intuitively adopt these informal notations when making notes or communicating ideas. They can be rapidly learned, efficiently created and conveniently communicated.

Living things

Animals

Apes Birds
...

Reptiles

Lizards Snakes
...

Plants Fungi

    The example above uses tabs as indentation to express a hierarchy. Animals, plants and fungi are examples of living things and apes, birds and reptiles are examples of Animals.

Living things

Animals

Apes

Birds

Reptiles

Lizards

Snakes

Plants

Fungi

    The example above uses a similar approach with spaces rather than tabs. Some authors may use two or more spaces for each indent rather than the single space shown here.
0 Living things
1 Animals
1.1 Apes
1.2 Birds
1.3 Reptiles
1.3.1 Lizards
1.3.2 Snakes

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2 Plants 3 Fungi

    The example above uses dot-decimal numbering to indicate both hierarchy and sequence. Users may intermix these representations and apply their conventions in a relaxed and pragmatic manner. IN spite of their informality, th...