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Table-to-Text: Generating Descriptive Text for Scientific Tables from Randomized Controlled Trials

Author: Qiang Wei, MS (2020)

Primary advisor: Hua Xu, PhD

Committee members: Cui Tao, PhD; Qiaozhu Mei, PhD

PhD thesis, The University of Texas School of Health Information Sciences at Houston.

Unprecedented amounts of data have been generated in the biomedical domain, and the bottleneck for biomedical research has shifted from data generation to data management, interpretation, and communication. Therefore, it is highly desirable to develop systems to assist in text generation from biomedical data, which will greatly improve the dissemination of scientific findings. However, very few studies have investigated issues of data-to-text generation in the biomedical domain. Here I present a systematic study for generating descriptive text from tables in randomized clinical trials (RCT) articles, which includes: (1) an information model for representing RCT tables; (2) annotated corpora containing pairs of RCT table and descriptive text, and labeled structural and semantic information of RCT tables; (3) methods for recognizing structural and semantic information of RCT tables; (4) methods for generating text from RCT tables, evaluated by a user study on three aspects: relevance, grammatical quality, and matching. The proposed hybrid text generation method achieved a low bilingual evaluation understudy (BLEU) score of 5.69; but human review achieved scores of 9.3, 9.9 and 9.3 for relevance, grammatical quality and matching, respectively, which are comparable to review of original human-written text. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first study to generate text from scientific tables in the biomedical domain. The proposed information model, labeled corpora and developed methods for recognizing tables and generating descriptive text could also facilitate other biomedical and informatics research and applications.