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Stanford Natural Language Parser Wrapper

This module is a wrapper for the Stanford Natural Language Parser.

The Stanford Natural Language Parser is a Java implementation of a probabilistic PCFG and dependency parser for English, German, Chinese, and Arabic. This module provides a thin wrapper around the Java code to make it accessible from Ruby along with pure Ruby objects that enable standoff parsing.

Installation and Configuration

In addition to the Ruby gems it requires, to run this module you must manually install the Stanford Natural Language Parser.

This module expects the parser to be installed in the /usr/local/stanford-parser/current directory on UNIX platforms and in the C:\stanford-parser\current directory on Windows platforms. This is the directory that contains the stanford-parser.jar file. When the module is loaded, it adds this directory to the Java classpath and launches the Java VM with the arguments -server -Xmx150m.

These defaults can be overridden by creating the configuration file /etc/ruby_stanford_parser.yaml on UNIX platforms and C:\stanford-parser\ruby-stanford-parser.yaml on Windows platforms. This file is in the Ruby YAML format, and may contain two values: root and jvmargs. For example, the file might look like the following:

root: /usr/local/stanford-parser/other/location jvmargs: -Xmx100m -verbose

Tokenization and Parsing

Use the StanfordParser::DocumentPreprocessor class to tokenize text and files into sentences and words.

>> require “stanfordparser” => true >> preproc = => <DocumentPreprocessor> >> puts preproc.getSentencesFromString(“This is a sentence. So is this.”) This is a sentence . So is this .

Use the StanfordParser::LexicalizedParser class to parse sentences.

>> parser = Loading parser from serialized file /usr/local/stanford-parser/current/englishPCFG.ser.gz … done [5.5 sec]. => edu.stanford.nlp.parser.lexparser.LexicalizedParser >> puts parser.apply(“This is a sentence.”) (ROOT (S [24.917] (NP [6.139] (DT [2.300] This)) (VP [17.636] (VBZ [0.144] is) (NP [12.299] (DT [1.419] a) (NN [8.897] sentence))) (. [0.002] .)))

For complete details about the use of these classes, see the documentation on the Stanford Natural Language Parser website.

Standoff Tokenization and Parsing

This module also contains support for standoff tokenization and parsing, in which the terminal nodes of parse trees contain information about the text that was used to generate them.

Use StanfordParser::StandoffDocumentPreprocessor class to tokenize text and files into sentences and words.

>> preproc = => <StandoffDocumentPreprocessor> >> s = preproc.getSentencesFromString(“This is a sentence. So is this.”) => [This is a sentence., So is this.]

The standoff preprocessor returns StanfordParser::StandoffToken objects, which contain character offsets into the original text along with information about spacing characters that came before and after the token.

	>> puts s

This [0,4] is [5,7] a [8,9] sentence [10,18] . [18,19] So [21,23] is [24,26] this [27,31] . [31,32] >> “This is a sentence. So is this.” => “this.”

This is the same information contained in the edu.stanford.nlp.ling.FeatureLabel class in the Stanford Parser Java implementation.

Similarly, use the StanfordParser::StandoffParsedText object to parse a block of text into StanfordParser::StandoffNode parse trees whose terminal nodes are StanfordParser::StandoffToken objects.

>> t =“This is a sentence. So is this.”) Loading parser from serialized file /usr/local/stanford-parser/current/englishPCFG.ser.gz … done [4.9 sec]. => <StanfordParser::StandoffParsedText, 2 sentences> >> puts t.first (ROOT (S (NP (DT This [0,4])) (VP (VBZ is [5,7]) (NP (DT a [8,9]) (NN sentence [10,18]))) (. . [18,19])))

Standoff parse trees can reproduce the text from which they were generated verbatim.

>> t.first.to_original_string => “This is a sentence. ”

They can also reproduce the original text with brackets inserted around the yields of specified parse nodes.

>> t.first.to_bracketed_string([, [0,1,1]]) => “[This] is [a sentence]. ”

The format of the coordinates used to specify individual nodes is described in the documentation for the Ruby Treebank gem.

See the documentation of the individual classes in this module for more details.

Unlike their parents StanfordParser::DocumentPreprocessor and StanfordParser::LexicalizedParser, which produce Ruby wrappers around Java objects, StanfordParser::StandoffDocumentPreprocessor and StanfordParser::StandoffParsedText produce pure Ruby objects. This is to facilitate serialization of these objects using tools like the Marshal module, which cannot serialize Java objects.



Initial release


Make module initialization function private. Add example code.


Read Java VM arguments from the configuration file. Add Word class.


Add support for standoff parsing. Change the way Rjb::JavaObjectWrapper wraps returned values: see wrap_java_object for details. Rjb::JavaObjectWrapper supports static members. Minor changes to stanford-sentence-parser script.


Different default paths for Windows machines; Minor changes to StandoffToken definition


Add parent information to StandoffNode


Copyright 2007-2008, William Patrick McNeill

This program is distributed under the GNU General Public License.


W.P. McNeill