|"This is a text about a computational interpretation of Rhetorical Structure Theory (RST) as applied to text summarisation. Marcu cites an impressive array of experiments that he (and others) performed in testing his implementation of RST. The empirical basis of much of his work is quite impressive.
He provides a bundle of algorithms which strengthen the text enormously. The difficulty with the text is not so much the presentation, whihc is clear, as the underlying philosophical assumption that one can do nonsemantically directed parsing of texts. The issue goes far beyond this text however.
Like a number of other discourse theories, RST has been criticised for providing form rather than content. Marcu shows that in certain cases the form of a text is a reasonable guide to its point or purpose. Not everyone, I suspect, will accept his starting point - just as there is little agrement on the categorisation of discourse moves. However, by bringing together his work so systematically, Marcu has done a great service to the debate over discourse and text dynamics.
Moreover, Marcu is focused on RST as a handle on texts rather than conversations. This restriction makes the work all the more significant - and provides lots of food for thought. Definitely a buy, even if you disagree with the fundamental operational definitions. "