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Creating a live, public short message service corpus: the NUS SMS corpus


Short Message Service (SMS) messages are short messages sent from one person to another from their mobile phones. They represent a means of personal communication that is an important communicative artifact in our current digital era. As most existing studies have used private access to SMS corpora, comparative studies using the same raw SMS data have not been possible up to now. We describe our efforts to collect a public SMS corpus to address this problem. We use a battery of methodologies to collect the corpus, paying particular attention to privacy issues to address contributors’ concerns. Our live project collects new SMS message submissions, checks their quality, and adds valid messages. We release the resultant corpus as XML and as SQL dumps, along with monthly corpus statistics. We opportunistically collect as much metadata about the messages and their senders as possible, so as to enable different types of analyses. To date, we have collected more than 71,000 messages, focusing on English and Mandarin Chinese.

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    In terms of publications in IEEE, ACM and ACL between June 2010 and June 2011.

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    In contrast, our 2004 corpus was collected locally within the University in Singapore, not representative of general worldwide SMS use.

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    Available at Although the corpus is not directly downloadable as a file, we still consider it as public as all of the messages are displayed on the single web page.

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    According to the China Witkey Industrial White Paper 2011 conducted by iResearch.

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    Now replaced by Nokia Suite

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    Hence a Gmail account is a prerequisite to this collection method.

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    But we do not encourage users to edit messages since we feel it may destroy the originality.

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    Since we replace sensitive data with pre-defined codes in the anonymization process, the unique token count of the original messages is likely to be higher than what we calculated.

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    On 21 April 2012 when most payments were made. 1 SGD = 0.8015 USD, 1 CNY = 0.1585 USD.

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    In fact, these were some of Ipeirotis’ suggestions to ameliorate the problem, so credit is due to him.

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    As of 18 June 2012.

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    Via the Corpora List, corpus4u forum (Chinese), the 52nlp blog (Chinese).

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    hiapk and gfan.

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    From additional personal contacts, we obtained an additional 1,433 English and 1,996 Chinese SMS respectively.

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We would like to thank many of our colleagues who have made valuable suggestions on the SMS collection, including Jesse Prabawa Gozali, Ziheng Lin, Jun-Ping Ng, Kazunari Sugiyama, Yee Fan Tan, Aobo Wang and Jin Zhao. The authors gratefully acknowledge the support of the China-Singapore Institute of Digital Media’s support of this work by the “Co-training NLP systems and Language Learners” grant R 252-002-372-490.

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Chen, T., Kan, MY. Creating a live, public short message service corpus: the NUS SMS corpus. Lang Resources & Evaluation 47, 299–335 (2013).

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  • SMS corpus
  • Corpus creation
  • English
  • Chinese
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Mechanical turk
  • Zhubajie