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Disambiguation is the conceptual separation of two ideas represented by the same word, a word that has the same spelling, where it is difficult to tell which meaning is being referenced. Humans and technology systems both have their own means for disambiguation and methods for interpreting and parsing inputs.
Disambiguation is also known as word sense disambiguation and text disambiguation.
Humans mostly use context for disambiguation. Part of the human cognitive experience with language is figuring out what a speaker is talking about, based on the context of the discussion. For machines, this is much more difficult. Different methods have emerged in natural language processing to help technologies to do disambiguation – two of these are called the "deep method" and the "shallow method." The shallow method involves looking at nearby words for context. The deep method involves scouring larger data resources to try to make an educated guess about disambiguation in context. Engineers are working on new types of classifiers and tools to help technologies get better at disambiguation.