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Browsing the Parse Space

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Part of the Communications in Computer and Information Science book series (CCIS,volume 563)


Ambiguous context-free grammars can generate many (even infinite) parse trees for each input sentence. We will refer to all these parse trees as the parse space of the sentence. Thus, in many settings (computational linguistics, education in compiler construction, etc.) the need for browsing this parse space (i.e., for examining different trees in a systematic and ordered way) arises. In this paper we describe a browsing approach that works for arbitrary (even infinitely ambiguous) grammars. The approach, which is based on the well-known Earley’s algorithm, sorts the parse space according to structural complexity of the parse trees, lets users inspect a particular tree, and then to jump to the previous and/or the next tree. This approach has been implemented in EvDebugger, an educational system for the learning of the attribute grammar formalism.


  • Parsing
  • Earley algorithm
  • Parse trees
  • Grammar debugging technique

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    In the Earley’s original work lookahead symbols were also added to items, although later on it was shown that it does not substantially affect to algorithm performance.


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This work has been partially supported by the BBVA Foundation (research grant HUM14_251), by the Spanish R&D&I Plan (research grant TIN2014-52010-R), by Santander-UCM GR3/14 (group number 962022) and by the grant EDU/3445/201.

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Correspondence to José-Luis Sierra .

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Rodríguez-Cerezo, D., Sierra, JL. (2015). Browsing the Parse Space. In: Sierra-Rodríguez, JL., Leal, JP., Simões, A. (eds) Languages, Applications and Technologies. SLATE 2015. Communications in Computer and Information Science, vol 563. Springer, Cham.

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