Transition dependency sampler software -- for Monte Carlo Syntax Marginals for Exploring and Using Dependency Parses; Katherine A. Keith, Su Lin Blodgett, and Brendan O'Connor; Proceedings of NAACL, 2018.
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This code is for the paper:

Monte Carlo Syntax Marginals for Exploring and Using Dependency Parses
Katherine A. Keith, Su Lin Blodgett, and Brendan O'Connor
Proceedings of NAACL, 2018


  • add_sampler_to_corenlp_nndep.diff: to compile the transition sampler (see below)
  • corenlp symlink: to help run the transition sampler (see below)
  • examples/: Parse samples for a few example sentences.
  • runs the transition sampler (see below)
  • stuff/: Analysis scripts for parse samples.
  • srl_experiments/: scripts and notes from the SRL (semantic role assignment) experiment
  • pf/: scripts and notes from the police fatalities experiment
  • ud_parses/: experiments on the UD 1.3 dev set, specifically for path prediction and its precision-recall and calibration.

The stuff/ directory includes lots of parse output too, as zip files. The path marginals output used for ud_parses/ is a bit larger (~925MB uncompressed, 53MB compressed) so isn't included, but ask us if you need it.

Running the transition sampler

Requires Java to be installed and runnable. Uses a precompiled version we checked in to the repository.

  1. Download stanford-corenlp-full-2017-06-09 (same as version 3.8.0) from

  2. Unzip it in this directory.

  3. unzip

  4. Now you should be able to run:

     echo -e "I saw the house with a fork.\n\nI saw the house with a chimney.\n\nI saw the house with a telescope." > doc.txt
     ./ doc.txt

This first creates doc.txt.conllu (for its tokenization, and incidentally with a greedy decoding too), and second, it outputs doc.txt.pred with the samples. (The sampling step actually doesn't require the corenlp download; if you can tokenize+postag to conll format yourself, you can just run the sampler off that.)

Each tree sample is a column. Columns are appended on the right side of the doc.txt.pred file.

To view the edge marginals:

% python stuff/ < doc.txt.pred
1    I               PRP     2-nsubj:1.00
2    saw             VBD     0-root:1.00
3    the             DT      4-det:1.00
4    house           NN      2-dobj:1.00
5    with            IN      7-case:1.00
6    a               DT      7-det:1.00
7    fork            NN      2-nmod:0.88 4-nmod:0.12
8    .               .       2-punct:1.00

1    I               PRP     2-nsubj:1.00
2    saw             VBD     0-root:1.00
3    the             DT      4-det:1.00
4    house           NN      2-dobj:1.00
5    with            IN      7-case:1.00
6    a               DT      7-det:1.00
7    chimney         NN      2-nmod:0.92 4-nmod:0.08
8    .               .       2-punct:1.00

1    I               PRP     2-nsubj:1.00
2    saw             VBD     0-root:1.00
3    the             DT      4-det:1.00
4    house           NN      2-dobj:0.99 2-iobj:0.01
5    with            IN      7-case:1.00
6    a               DT      7-det:0.99 7-dep:0.01
7    telescope       NN      2-nmod:0.90 4-nmod:0.10
8    .               .       2-punct:1.00

A more complex example:

Compiling the transition sampler

add_sampler_to_corenlp_nndep.diff is the patch file applied to src/ from stanford-corenlp-full-2017-06-09 (from CoreNLP 3.8.0). We basically only changed one file (edu/stanford/nlp/parser/nndep/ and added one new file (for convenience - it could be done without if you trust Java's Math.random()).

  1. download stanford-corenlp-full-2017-06-09 (same as version 3.8.0 i think) from

  2. unzip ~/Downloads/ into this directory. (the corenlp symlink is supposed to point to it now)

  3. Copy the src/ dir into this directory and apply the patch. We actually haven't done this step so are not sure what patch options it may require. To get the source code, this may work:

     mkdir src
     cd src
     jar xf ../corenlp/stanford-corenlp-3.8.0-sources.jar
  4. compile java files into .class files in target/classes. this is the default way eclipse is set up. there's probably a commandline invocation of "javac" that will do it too. (we did it with eclipse...) eclipse (or javac) will need to be told about all the .jar dependencies in corenlp's base dir. See directions below.

  5. now the following should hopefully work. (.jar dependencies aren't actually needed for runtime. yay! that's simpler.)

    java -cp "target/classes/" edu.stanford.nlp.parser.nndep.DependencyParser -model stuff/english_UD.gz -testFile doc.txt.conllu -outFile pred -numSamples 10

Miscellaneous notes

The checked-in UD model is simply from jar xf stanford-corenlp-3.8.0-models.jar edu/stanford/nlp/models/parser/nndep/english_UD.gz

To use Eclipse ... not recommended, but it worked for us...

ECLIPSE: File -> Open Project from Filesystem

ECLIPSE: project properties (Right click) -> Java Build Path -> Add Jars. dont use the stanford-corenlp jars, since those are precompied ones. but all the other (non-source) jars are dependencies so they're needed.

FILESYSTEM: .class files will get built into target/classes or something.

RUNNING IT: using the Eclipse-compiled variant. Modify to have System.out.println("HERE") or somehting like that then do

java -cp "*.jar:target/classes" edu.stanford.nlp.parser.nndep.DependencyParser

need the HERE test to make sure the right version of DependencyParser is used. the "*.jar" is including stanford-corenlp-3.8.0.jar ... which has the pre-compiled version of DependencyParser. I think what happens is the target/classes version overrides it. I guess you could delete stanford-corenlp-3.8.0.jar to be safe.