The Algorithmic Expansion of Stories

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Thomas, Craig Michael
computational linguistics , computational semantics , story generation
This research examines how the contents and structure of a story may be enriched by computational means. A review of pertinent semantic theory and previous work on the structural analysis of folktales is presented. Merits and limitations of several content-generation systems are discussed. The research develops three mechanisms - elaboration, interpolation, and continuity fixes - to enhance story content, address issues of rigid structure, and fix problems with the logical progression of a story. Elaboration works by adding or modifying information contained within a story to provide detailed descriptions of an event. Interpolation works by adding detail between high-level story elements dictated by a story grammar. Both methods search for appropriate semantic functions contained in a lexicon. Rules are developed to ensure that the selection of functions is consistent with the context of the story. Control strategies for both mechanisms are proposed that restrict the quantity and content of candidate functions. Finally, a method of checking and correcting inconsistencies in story continuity is proposed. Continuity checks are performed using semantic threads that connect an object or character to a sequence of events. Unexplained changes in state or location are fixed with interpolation. The mechanisms are demonstrated with simple examples drawn from folktales, and the effectiveness of each is discussed. While the thesis focuses on folktales, it forms the basis for further work on the generation of more complex stories in the greater realm of fiction.
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