Easily identify and label sentence intervals using various taggers.
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A tagger is a function from a sentence to a list of Types. A Type consists of a name and the token interval it came from in the source sentence.


For example, you might have a tagger that identifies animals. Following is the string serialized form of a tagger. To the left of := is the name of the tagger--that is when the tagger finds a type it will have this name. To the right of := is the tagger class. This is a Java/Scala class; if no package is specified taggers will look in edu.knowitall.taggers.tag. Between the braces {} are the arguments to the tagger.

Animal := NormalizedKeywordTagger {

If this tagger were to run over the following sentence, we would get some types.

Kittens are very cute , but they turn into cats .

Type(name=Animal, text="Kittens", interval=[0, 1))
Type(name=Animal, text="cats", interval=[10, 11))


The taggers project is composed of two subprojects: taggers-core, which contains the algorithms, and taggers-webapp, which contains the web demo. The project is built with sbt. For example, to run the web demo, you can execute the following command.

sbt compile 'project taggers-webapp' run

If you want an example of how to use the taggers project as a dependency, please look at taggers-webapp.


This tagger compiles regular expressions over the tokens in a sentence into an NFA. A token is described as a logical formula between angled brackets <>. There are a number of fields that can be matched upon for each token.

  • string
  • lemma
  • pos: the part-of-speech tag
  • chunk: the chunk tag
  • type: any type that intersects this token
  • typeStart: any type that starts at this token
  • typeEnd: any type that ends at this token
  • typeCont: any type that intersects at this token but does not start or end there

A field can be matched in one of three ways.

  1. With double quotes ". Strings are interpreted the same was as Java strings (backslash is the escape character).
  2. With single quotes '. The text between two single quotes will be taken verbatim (there is no escape character).
  3. With slashes /. The text between the slashes will be interpreted as a regular expression. Backslash is the escape character so \\ becomes a single backslash and \/ escapes the forward slash.

A pattern tagger makes types with the tagger name, but also LinkedTypes for each matching group. A LinkedType has an Optional Type field that points to its parent Type and a name field with a special syntax. If the tagger is named T and a matching group is named G1 for example, the tagger will create a LinkedType with the name T.G1. If there is an unnamed matching group a LinkedType will be created with the group number (i.e. T.1).

There is a lot of redundancy in their expressiveness. For example, PatternTagger supports pattern matching on the fields .This is not necessary but is an optimization and a shorthand. For example, the following two' patterns match the same text.

<pos="NNP"> | <pos="NNPS">

Here are some more equivalent examples:

<pos="JJ">* <pos=/NNP./>+
<pos="JJ">* <pos=/NNPS?/>+
<pos="JJ">* <pos="NNP" | pos="NNPS">+
<pos="JJ">* (?:<pos="NNP"> | <pos="NNPS">)+

Note that (3) and (4) are not preferred for efficiency reasons. Regex OR (in example (4)) should only be used on multi-token sequences.

The Regular Expressions support named groups (<name>: ... ), unnamed groups (?: ... ), and capturing groups ( ... ). The operators allowed are +, ?, *, and |. The Logic Expressions (that describe each token) allow grouping ( ... ), not !, or |, and and &. To learn more about the regular expression language, see https://github.com/knowitall/openregex.


The TypePatternTagger extends the PatternTagger with a defintiion that matches types. Since a type can span multiple tokens but the pattern language operates on the token level, matching types can be tedious and error prone. For example, if you want to match the type Animal, you need the following pattern.

(?:(?:<typeStart='Animal' & typeEnd='Animal'>) | (?: <typeStart='Animal'> <typeCont='Animal'>* <typeEnd='Animal'>))

Matching many types quickly makes unreadable patterns, so the TypePatternTagger adds the syntax @Type which, if the type is Animal (@Animal) it would expand into the above. With this syntax, it's easy to match on types. For an implementation of ReVerb, see examples/reverb.tc.

Extended Example

See the code in edu.knowitall.taggers.example.Example for a demonstration of how to use the API for collecting and manipulating Type objects with a specified TaggerCollection and test input.