skip navigation

PUBLICATIONS

Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.

 

NCJ Number: 78461 Find in a Library
Title: Automated Retrieval of Information - Toward the Development of a Formal Language for Expressing Statutes
Date Published: 1979
Page Count: 14
Annotation: This article describes research activities to create formal languages for expressing statutes that can be used in automated response systems.
Abstract: A formal language that could record information would make possible certain automated inferential and communicative processes involving legal textual materials. The processes described are useful in creating artificial intelligence. This article first discussses methods for designing the infrastructure of a language, beginning with rules for constructing sentences based on precise definitional terms and semantic primitives. Rules for relating sentences to one another and a response strategy to accommodate queries written in the formal language are also examined. Reasons for choosing the statutory realm as the focus of language research are outlined, such as the formality of expressions used in statutes and their limited scope of coverage. The discussion regarding advantages of formal language over natural language expressions suggests that the artificial language could be used to draft statutes and would substantially increase the powers of an automated indexing system. Online retrieval systems for legal information are assessed, particularly TAXMAN which reportedly is capable of performing rudimentary forms of legal reasoning. Also reviewed are studies in the logical drafting of statutes which have produced extensive procedures for expressing statutory materials in conditional forms and removing areas of imprecision through the use of logical connectives. Based on this approach, a statute on illegal telephone calls is transformed into hierarchically structured sets of dependent conditions that can be expressed in the form of atomic expressions. A summary of a related project to develop language processing techniques for use in drafting statutes include a sequential list of research steps. Diagrams and approximately 40 footnotes are provided.
To cite this abstract, use the following link:
http://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publications/abstract.aspx?ID=78461

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.