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A contract is a legally binding agreement between real-world business entities whom we treat as providing services to one another. We focus on business rather than technical services. We think of a business contract as specifying the functional and nonfunctional behaviors of and interactions among the services. In current practice, contracts are produced as text documents. Thus the relevant service capabilities, requirements, qualities, and risks are hidden and difficult to access and reason about. We describe a simple but effective unsupervised information extraction approach and tool, Contract Miner, for discovering service exceptions at the phrase level from a large contract repository. Our approach involves preprocessing followed by an application of linguistic patterns and parsing to extract the service exception phrases. Identifying such (noun) phrases can help build service exception vocabularies that support the development of a taxonomy of business terms, and also facilitate modeling and analyzing service engagements. A lightweight online tool that comes with Contract Miner highlights the relevant text in service contracts and thereby assists users in reviewing contracts. Contract Miner produces promising results in terms of precision and recall when evaluated over a corpus of manually annotated contracts.
Date of Publication: Third Quarter 2012