AUTOMATIC TEXT ANALYSIS
Before a computerised information retrieval system can actually operate to retrieve some information, that information must have already been stored inside the computer.
Originally it will usually have been in the form of documents.
The computer, however, is not likely to have stored the complete text of each document in the natural language in which it was writtten.
It will have, instead, a document representative which may have been produced from the documents either manually or automatically.
The starting point of the text analysis process may be the complete document text, an abstract, the title only, or perhaps a list of words only.
From it the process must produce a document representative in a form which the computer can handle.
The developments and advances in the process of representation have been reviewed every year by the appropriate chapters of Cuadra's Annual Review of Information Science and Technology*.
The reader is referred to them for extensive references.
The emphasis in this Chapter is on the statistical (a word used loosely here: it usually simply implies counting) rather than linguistic approaches to automatic text analysis.
The reasons for this emphasis are varied.
Firstly, there is the limit on space.
Were I to attempt a discussion of semantic and syntactic methods applicable to automatic text analysis, it would probably fill another book.
Luckily such a book has recently been written by Sparck Jones and Kay.
Also Montgomery has written a paper surveying
* Especially see the recent review by Damerau