Interactive Information Extraction with Constrained Conditional Random Fields

Trausti Kristjansson, Aron Culotta, Paul Viola, and Andrew McCallum

Information Extraction methods can be used to automatically “fill-in” database forms from unstructured data such as Web documents or email. State-of-the-art methods have achieved low error rates but invariably make a number of errors. The goal of an interactive information extraction system is to assist the user in filling in database fields while giving the user confidence in the integrity of the data. The user is presented with an interactive interface that allows both the rapid verification of automatic field assignments and the correction of errors. In cases where there are multiple errors, our system takes into account user corrections, and immediately propagates these constraints such that other fields are often corrected automatically. Linear-chain conditional random fields (CRFs) have been shown to perform well for information extraction and other language modelling tasks due to their ability to capture arbitrary, overlapping features of the input in a Markov model. We apply this framework with two extensions: a constrained Viterbi decoding which finds the optimal field assignments consistent with the fields explicitly specified or corrected by the user; and a mechanism for estimating the confidence of each extracted field, so that low-confidence extractions can be highlighted. Both of these mechanisms are incorporated in a novel user interface for form filling that is intuitive and speeds the entry of data—providing a 23% reduction in error due to automated corrections.

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