Grouping sentences as better language unit for extractive text summarization

Mengyun Cao, Hai Zhuge*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Most existing methods for extractive text summarization aim to extract important sentences with statistical or linguistic techniques and concatenate these sentences as a summary. However, the extracted sentences are usually incoherent. The problem becomes worse when the source text and the summary are long and based on logical reasoning. The motivation of this paper is to answer the following two related questions: What is the best language unit for constructing a summary that is coherent and understandable? How is the extractive summarization process based on the language unit? Extracting larger language units such as a group of sentences or a paragraph is a natural way to improve the readability of summary as it is rational to assume that the original sentences within a larger language unit are coherent. This paper proposes a framework for group-based text summarization that clusters semantically related sentences into groups based on Semantic Link Network (SLN) and then ranks the groups and concatenates the top-ranked ones into a summary. A two-layer SLN model is used to generate and rank groups with semantic links including the is-part-of link, sequential link, similar-to link, and cause–effect link. The experimental results show that summaries composed by group or paragraph tend to contain more key words or phrases than summaries composed by sentences and summaries composed by groups contain more key words or phrases than those composed by paragraphs especially when the average length of source texts is from 7000 words to 17,000 words which is the usual length of scientific papers. Further, we compare seven clustering algorithms for generating groups and propose five strategies for generating groups with the four types of semantic links.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-359
Number of pages29
JournalFuture Generation Computer Systems
Early online date1 Apr 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

© 2020, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International


  • Clustering
  • Natural language processing
  • Semantic Link Network
  • Text summarization


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