A substantial amount of both computational and linguistic research on event representations has focused on categorical, coarse thematic roles such as AGENT and PATIENT. In spite of this, there is evidence going back to Dowty 1991 that this is the wrong grain size to look for thematic information: the appearance of roles like AGENT represents a conglomeration of finer-grained thematic properties such as causation, volition, change-of-state, etc.

In this line of work, we develop a semantic proto-role annotation task, and shown that it readily leads to quality annotations with minimal training in crowd-sourcing situations. Decomposing thematic roles into fine-grained proto-role properties provides both theoretical and practical gains: not only does it lead to a better account of the mapping of semantic representations to syntax, it also leads to more tractable semantic annotation tasks.


Train Dev Test Download Citation
7800 969 969 v1 (tar.gz) Reisinger et al. 2015
4877 632 582 v2 (tar.gz) White et al. 2016


Reisinger, Dee Ann, Rachel Rudinger, Francis Ferraro, Craig Harman, Kyle Rawlins, and Benjamin Van Durme. 2015. Semantic Proto-roles. Transactions of the Association of Computational Linguistics 3: 475-488.
White, Aaron Steven, Dee Ann Reisinger, Keisuke Sakaguchi, Tim Vieira, Sheng Zhang, Rachel Rudinger, Kyle Rawlins, and Benjamin Van Durme. 2016. Universal Decompositional Semantics on Universal Dependencies. In Proceedings of the 2016 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, 1713–1723. Austin, Texas: Association for Computational Linguistics. [pdf, doi, bib]
White, Aaron Steven, Kyle Rawlins, and Benjamin Van Durme. 2017. The Semantic Proto-Role Linking Model. In Proceedings of the 15th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics: Volume 2, Short Papers, 92–98. Valencia, Spain: Association for Computational Linguistics. [pdf, doi, bib, code]
Teichert, Adam, Adam Poliak, Benjamin Van Durme, and Matthew Gormley. 2017. Semantic Proto-Role Labeling. Proceedings of the Thirty-First AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-17), 4459-4465. [pdf]
Rudinger, Rachel, Adam Teichert, Ryan Culkin, Sheng Zhang, and Benjamin Van Durme. 2018. Neural-Davidsonian Semantic Proto-role Labeling. Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, 944–955. Brussels, Belgium: Association for Computational Linguistics. [pdf, doi, bib]


Rachel Rudinger bio photo
Rachel Rudinger
Aaron Steven White bio photo
Aaron Steven White
Benjamin Van Durme bio photo
Benjamin Van Durme
Kyle Rawlins bio photo
Kyle Rawlins
Frank Ferraro bio photo
Frank Ferraro
Craig Harman bio photo
Craig Harman