Natural Language Inference in Coq

Research paper by Stergios Chatzikyriakidis, Zhaohui Luo

Indexed on: 04 Oct '14Published on: 04 Oct '14Published in: Journal of Logic, Language and Information


In this paper we propose a way to deal with natural language inference (NLI) by implementing Modern Type Theoretical Semantics in the proof assistant Coq. The paper is a first attempt to deal with NLI and natural language reasoning in general by using the proof assistant technology. Valid NLIs are treated as theorems and as such the adequacy of our account is tested by trying to prove them. We use Luo’s Modern Type Theory (MTT) with coercive subtyping as the formal language into which we translate natural language semantics, and we further implement these semantics in the Coq proof assistant. It is shown that the use of a MTT with an adequate subtyping mechanism can give us a number of promising results as regards NLI. Specifically, it is shown that a number of inference cases, i.e. quantifiers, adjectives, conjoined noun phrases and temporal reference among other things can be successfully dealt with. It is then shown, that even though Coq is an interactive and not an automated theorem prover, automation of all of the test examples is possible by introducing user-defined automated tactics. Lastly, the paper offers a number of innovative approaches to NL phenomena like adjectives, collective predication, comparatives and factive verbs among other things, contributing in this respect to the theoretical study of formal semantics using MTTs.