Dornescu, Iustin (University of Wolverhampton, 2012-02)
Open-domain question answering (QA) is an established NLP task which enables users to search for speciVc pieces of information in large collections of texts. Instead of using keyword-based queries and a standard information retrieval engine, QA systems allow the use of natural language questions and return the exact answer (or a list of plausible answers) with supporting snippets of text. In the past decade, open-domain QA research has been dominated by evaluation fora such as TREC and CLEF, where shallow techniques relying on information redundancy have achieved very good performance. However, this performance is generally limited to simple factoid and deVnition questions because the answer is usually explicitly present in the document collection. Current approaches are much less successful in Vnding implicit answers and are diXcult to adapt to more complex question types which are likely to be posed by users. In order to advance the Veld of QA, this thesis proposes a shift in focus from simple factoid questions to encyclopaedic questions: list questions composed of several constraints. These questions have more than one correct answer which usually cannot be extracted from one small snippet of text. To correctly interpret the question, systems need to combine classic knowledge-based approaches with advanced NLP techniques. To Vnd and extract answers, systems need to aggregate atomic facts from heterogeneous sources as opposed to simply relying on keyword-based similarity. Encyclopaedic questions promote QA systems which use basic reasoning, making them more robust and easier to extend with new types of constraints and new types of questions. A novel semantic architecture is proposed which represents a paradigm shift in open-domain QA system design, using semantic concepts and knowledge representation instead of words and information retrieval. The architecture consists of two phases, analysis – responsible for interpreting questions and Vnding answers, and feedback – responsible for interacting with the user. This architecture provides the basis for EQUAL, a semantic QA system developed as part of the thesis, which uses Wikipedia as a source of world knowledge and iii employs simple forms of open-domain inference to answer encyclopaedic questions. EQUAL combines the output of a syntactic parser with semantic information from Wikipedia to analyse questions. To address natural language ambiguity, the system builds several formal interpretations containing the constraints speciVed by the user and addresses each interpretation in parallel. To Vnd answers, the system then tests these constraints individually for each candidate answer, considering information from diUerent documents and/or sources. The correctness of an answer is not proved using a logical formalism, instead a conVdence-based measure is employed. This measure reWects the validation of constraints from raw natural language, automatically extracted entities, relations and available structured and semi-structured knowledge from Wikipedia and the Semantic Web. When searching for and validating answers, EQUAL uses the Wikipedia link graph to Vnd relevant information. This method achieves good precision and allows only pages of a certain type to be considered, but is aUected by the incompleteness of the existing markup targeted towards human readers. In order to address this, a semantic analysis module which disambiguates entities is developed to enrich Wikipedia articles with additional links to other pages. The module increases recall, enabling the system to rely more on the link structure of Wikipedia than on word-based similarity between pages. It also allows authoritative information from diUerent sources to be linked to the encyclopaedia, further enhancing the coverage of the system. The viability of the proposed approach was evaluated in an independent setting by participating in two competitions at CLEF 2008 and 2009. In both competitions, EQUAL outperformed standard textual QA systems as well as semi-automatic approaches. Having established a feasible way forward for the design of open-domain QA systems, future work will attempt to further improve performance to take advantage of recent advances in information extraction and knowledge representation, as well as by experimenting with formal reasoning and inferencing capabilities.
Abstract Cropping allocations have normally been studied using frameworks that assume the existence of a representative farmer who cares about maximising gross margin. Evidence has shown that results obtained from these studies to predict cropping allocations in response to policy reforms are not satisfactory. On the other hand, an alternative research using multivariate models (i.e. models that consider economic and social-psychological variables to explain farmers’ behaviour) has been developed with the purpose of identifying farmers’ motivations to adopt specific environmental policies. However, this research has not been extended to study strategic cropping decisions. This is surprising given the fact that policy reforms strongly affect the allocation of crops when they are accompanied with the elimination of domestic distorting policies. The objective of this thesis is to fill this gap by proposing a novel holistic multivariate model designed exclusively to study farmers’ strategic cropping decisions. The proposed model integrates a number of alternative and complementary approaches that can explain farmers’ strategic behaviour. The model was applied to a sample of ex-sugar beet farmers in the West Midlands region of the UK to investigate the way in which these individuals adjusted to the Sugar Regime reform introduced on 20th February 2006. As a consequence of this reform, the sugar beet factory located in Allscott in Shropshire was closed and the sugar beet growers in this area adjusted by replacing sugar beet with alternative crops. Evidence has revealed that these farmers replaced sugar beet with crops with low gross margin such as oilseed. This choice is puzzling because other crops with high levels of gross margin such as carrots and parsnips were also available when the reform was implemented. The proposed multivariate model not only was useful to explain this choice, but also identified heterogeneous behavioural responses that no related research has identified so far.
Okehielem, Nelson (University of Wolverhampton, 2011)
There is a growing recognition in the built environment for the significance of benchmarking. It is recognized as a key driver for measuring success criteria in the built environment sector. In spite of the huge application of this technique to the sector and other sectors, very little is known of it in affordable housing sub-sector and where it has been used, components of housing quality were not holistically considered. This study considers this identified deficiency in developing a benchmark for assessing affordable housing quality impact factors. As part of this study, samples of 4 affordable Housing projects were examined. Two each were originally selected from under 5 categories of ‘operational quality standards’ within United Kingdom. Samples of 10 projects were extracted from a total of 80 identified UK affordable housing projects. Investigative study was conducted on these projects showing varying impact factors and constituent parameters responsible for their quality. Identified impact criteria found on these projects were mapped against a unifying set standard and weighted with ‘relative importance index’. Adopting quality function deployment (QFD) technique, a quality matrix was developed from these quality standards groupings with their impact factors. An affordable housing quality benchmark and a relative toolkit evolved from resultant quality matrix of project case studies and questionnaire served on practitioners’ performance. Whereas the toolkit was empirically tested for reliability and construct validity, the benchmark was subjected to refinement with the use of project case study.
Bashir, Abubakar Muhammad (University of Wolverhampton, 2013-06)
The poor safety situation in the United Kingdom (UK) construction industry and its adverse socio-economic record are well documented in the existing literature. The application of Lean Construction techniques has been proposed as an effective strategy to address accidents on construction sites, a major safety concern in the construction industry. However, examination of the relationship between Lean Construction techniques and safety issues has been marginal. This study explores this relationship with the aim of developing a framework for using Lean Construction techniques to promote safety on UK construction sites. A framework was initially devised based on a synthesis of the literature and further refined based on findings from interviews held with 10 Lean Construction practitioners on antecedents of Lean Construction techniques and safety issues. In order to develop and confirm the framework, data was collected from practicing Lean Construction organisations using a questionnaire survey and analysed using descriptive statistics, inferential statistics and inter-rater agreement statistical test to examine the pattern and extent of the relationships. The study found a total of thirty-eight (38) relationships between Lean Construction techniques and safety issues. These relationships are mainly positive in nature in that they demonstrate path to improvement in safety on construction sites. They show which techniques could be used to address the relevant safety issue. Furthermore, it was established that the application of Lean Construction techniques on construction sites can be impeded by challenges such as: lack of Lean Construction knowledge, complexity, misconception about Lean and difficulties in changing employees’ working culture. The study identified strategies that could be used to address these challenges. These include enlightenment on benefits of Lean practice, publication of improvements realised from Lean practice, training, workers’ involvement and empowerment, persistence, robust planning and gradual step-by-step implementation. The study, therefore, concludes that Lean Construction techniques have positive relationships with safety issues on construction sites in the UK and on the basis of the relationships develops an integrated framework to guide application of the techniques by contracting organisations in promoting safety. The study makes a number of recommendations including the incorporation of Lean Construction practice into government health and safety initiatives, regulations and policies, and identifies areas for further research.
Mante, Joseph. (University of Wolverhampton, 2014)
This study undertook a critical examination of developing countries’ experiences of infrastructure-related construction dispute resolution using Ghana as a case study. It investigated the dispute resolution processes and procedures which parties to infrastructure construction disputes employed to address such disputes. To gain a better understanding of the dispute resolution processes, the study also assessed the legal framework for procurement and contract formation and other contextual issues which influenced parties’ dispute resolution choices. Consequently, strategies for efficient and effective dispute resolution were developed. The main rationale for the study was the need for effective and efficient dispute resolution processes in the context of infrastructure projects in developing countries. The literature indicated that disputes often occurred on such projects in developing countries that were resolved at great cost mainly by arbitral tribunals in the developed world. However, there was limited information on the extent to which other dispute resolution mechanisms were utilised prior to resort to international arbitration. The study adopted a qualitative research approach informed by the interpretivist philosophical paradigm. Data was collected from fifty-six interviewees from the State as the Employer and foreign contractors through semi-structured interviews and documents and analysed using qualitative data analysis procedures associated with grounded theory research such as coding, constant comparison, memoing and diagramming, and doctrinal legal analysis. It was found that engineer’s determination, negotiation and international arbitration were the most used dispute resolution mechanisms. Others such as mediation were rarely used. The dispute resolution processes were characterised by high cost, low satisfaction with outcomes and negative effect on relationships. It was also found that the extant dispute resolution processes were the product of the nature of the parties, the context in which they operated and their responses to the context. Factors such as lack of coordination among the Employer’s sub-units, human resource constraints and political interference had varying negative impacts on dispute occurrence, dispute resolution system design and the dispute resolution processes. To deal with these challenges and achieve efficient and effective dispute resolution processes, four sets of remedial strategies (condensed into a model called the Dispute Resolution Efficiency Cycle (DREC)) were proposed. The study has provided empirical evidence which has addressed some of the gaps identified in the literature on issues such as absence of information on pre-international arbitration dispute processes. The study has also highlighted the impact of context and dispute system design on dispute resolution. Contributions to practice included diagnosing challenges with the extant dispute resolution processes and proposing possible remedial strategies.
MBZIBAIN, AURELIAN (University of Wolverhampton, 2012-07)
The rate of adoption of renewable energy (RE) production and associated enterprises onfarms in the UK has been lower than expected suggesting that the UK government’s energy, agricultural and climate change objectives may not be achieved. The aim of this research is to investigate why this is the case by assessing the uptake, motivations, constraints and the factors affecting farmers’ RE investment intentions. Building on extant research literature (institutional theory, social cognition theory, theory of planned behaviour and the resource based view) a novel comprehensive and multidimensional model of entrepreneurial intentions was developed and tested using principal component, path and multivariate regression analysis techniques. Data were collected to test the model through a sample of 2000 farmers in the West Midlands Region of the UK. Of the 393 farmers who responded, 14% adopted RE enterprises, with half of adopters reporting slight to significant improvements in farm business performance in 2009. Solar panels were the most popular of the RE technologies available to farmers, compared to biomass related technologies. The study found that the most influential personal level factors contributing to the adoption of RE and associated technologies were cognitive such as the level of education. Of current 338 non-adopters, 66% might decide to invest in RE technologies over the next five years. For these potential adopters, the study shows that the type of tenure, educational attainment and the type of farm business diversification activity in which a farmer is engaged are the most significant personal and farm business situational factors which influence farmers’ RE investment intentions though contrary to expectation current non-adopters assessed the policy support framework more favourably than current adopters. The explanation of this seems to be connected with timing, in that two very positive and encouraging signals in relation to ii Feed in Tariffs (2010) and the Renewable Heat Incentive (2011) were underway or near introduction before this research took place. The study provides the first empirical evidence of the effects of the multidimensional measures of the country’s institutional profile on farmers’ RE investment intentions. Secondly, it clarifies the distinct role played by national formal and informal institutions on farmers’ investment intentions showing that informal institutions and not formal regulatory factors have a direct effect on farmers’ intentions to invest in RE enterprises. Thirdly, the investigation reveals that social acceptability of entrepreneurship in the RE sector is negatively related to investment intentions and moderates the efficacy of formal government policies in influencing entrepreneurial behaviour in the RE sector. The study concludes that any study that relies only on one type of institution will be making significant prediction mistakes. This study provides further support for cognitive based process models of intentions by showing strong significant positive effects of perceived self-efficacy and perceived desirability of RE enterprises on investment intentions. In fact, the study shows that farmers’ attitudes towards RE explain the highest amount of variance in investment intentions over and above the combined effect of external resource and institutional factors. The study illustrates that perceived self-efficacy and perceived desirability of RE enterprises mediate the effect of the rich set of exogenous variables investigated in this study on investment intentions and argues that policy makers need to focus on improving the regulatory, cognitive and normative institutional environments as a way to improve attitudes towards RE and consequently their intentions to invest in these enterprises.
Ponomareva, Natalia (University of Wolverhampton, 2014)
The rapid development of Internet technologies has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of Internet users who create content online. Usergenerated content often represents people's opinions, thoughts, speculations and sentiments and is a valuable source of information for companies, organisations and individual users. This has led to the emergence of the eld of sentiment analysis, which deals with the automatic extraction and classi cation of sentiments expressed in texts. Sentiment analysis has been intensively researched over the last ten years, but there are still many issues to be addressed. One of the main problems is the lack of labelled data necessary to carry out precise supervised sentiment classi cation. In response, research has moved towards developing semi-supervised and crossdomain techniques. Semi-supervised approaches still need some labelled data and their e ectiveness is largely determined by the amount of these data, whereas cross-domain approaches usually perform poorly if training data are very di erent from test data. The majority of research on sentiment classi cation deals with the binary classi cation problem, although for many practical applications this rather coarse sentiment scale is not su cient. Therefore, it is crucial to design methods which are able to perform accurate multiclass sentiment classi cation. iii The aims of this thesis are to address the problem of limited availability of data in sentiment analysis and to advance research in semi-supervised and cross-domain approaches for sentiment classi cation, considering both binary and multiclass sentiment scales. We adopt graph-based learning as our main method and explore the most popular and widely used graph-based algorithm, label propagation. We investigate various ways of designing sentiment graphs and propose a new similarity measure which is unsupervised, easy to compute, does not require deep linguistic analysis and, most importantly, provides a good estimate for sentiment similarity as proved by intrinsic and extrinsic evaluations. The main contribution of this thesis is the development and evaluation of a graph-based sentiment analysis system that a) can cope with the challenges of limited data availability by using semi-supervised and crossdomain approaches b) is able to perform multiclass classi cation and c) achieves highly accurate results which are superior to those of most stateof- the-art semi-supervised and cross-domain systems. We systematically analyse and compare semi-supervised and cross-domain approaches in the graph-based framework and propose recommendations for selecting the most pertinent learning approach given the data available. Our recommendations are based on two domain characteristics, domain similarity and domain complexity, which were shown to have a signi cant impact on semi-supervised and cross-domain performance.
Preston-Hough, Peter Norman (University of Wolverhampton, 2013-04)
The conflict in the Far East between 1941 and 1945 is occasionally referred to as the “Forgotten War” in Britain and this description extends to the way the campaign’s air war has been analysed. However, the role of air power in Burma was vitally important to the campaign, in particular the attainment of air superiority in order to facilitate supply and close support operations. The foundation of these operations was dependent on the Allies achieving and maintaining air superiority and latterly air supremacy over the Japanese. This thesis will analyse how the Allies lost air superiority during the initial exchanges, and then how technical and material difficulties were overcome before air superiority was won in 1944 and air supremacy was gained in 1945. It will analyse the importance of the RAF’s tactics, early warning systems, equipment, training and counter-air offensive in the theatre between 1941 and 1945. Furthermore, the thesis will demonstrate how Japanese industry, their war in the Pacific, and their use of air power in Burma ultimately affected the air war’s eventual outcome. The study will examine current historiography to question and corroborate existing views, as well as to reveal new information not previously published.
Cook, Thomas (University of Wolverhampton, 2012-01)
Palmar flexion crease matching is a method for verifying or establishing identity. New methods of palmprint identification, that complement existing identification strategies, or reduce analysis and comparison times, will benefit palmprint identification communities worldwide. To this end, this thesis describes new methods of manual and automated palmar flexion crease identification, that can be used to identify palmar flexion creases in online palmprint images. In the first instance, a manual palmar flexion crease identification and matching method is described, which was used to compare palmar flexion creases from 100 palms, each modified 10 times to mimic some of the types of alterations that can be found in crime scene palmar marks. From these comparisons, using manual palmar flexion crease identification, results showed that when labelled within 10 pixels, or 3.5 mm, of the palmar flexion crease, a palmprint image can be identified with a 99.2% genuine acceptance rate and a 0% false acceptance rate. Furthermore, in the second instance, a new method of automated palmar flexion crease recognition, that can be used to identify palmar flexion creases in online palmprint images, is described. A modified internal image seams algorithm was used to extract the flexion creases, and a matching algorithm, based on kd-tree nearest neighbour searching, was used to calculate the similarity between them. Results showed that in 1000 palmprint images from 100 palms, when compared to manually identified palmar flexion creases, a 100% genuine acceptance rate was achieved with a 0.0045% false acceptance rate. Finally, to determine if automated palmar flexion crease recognition can be used as an effective method of palmprint identification, palmar flexion creases from two online palmprint image data sets, containing images from 100 palms and 386 palms respectively, were automatically extracted and compared. In the first data set, that is, for images from 100 palms, an equal error rate of 0.3% was achieved. In the second data set, that is, for images from 386 palms, an equal error rate of 0.415% was achieved.
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