A computer program or portion of a program that analyzes a string of characters in order to recognize grammatical units. Joseph Weizenbaum's Eliza (1966) and Terry Winograd's SHRDLU (c.1970) are two of the best-known early interactive programs that had parsers.
Early IF, including the original Adventure, used a two-word parser that only looked at the first few characters of each word. More recent IF parsers, following the lead of Dungeon aka Zork, have an Infocom-type parser that can understand longer words and more complex commands, but the genre is still a long way from using natural language processing to achieve complete understanding of all English inputs.
- Discussions about parsing on the rec.arts.int-fiction newsgroup
- Survey of IF systems on the TADS 3 mailing list ..
- if yr cmptr cn rd ths... by Shay Addams for Computer Entertainment, August 1985. Details the mid-80s "parser war" between various publishers of text adventures.
- So, Do We Need This Parser Thing Anyway? by Emily Short, June 2010. An overview of the accessibility problem with parsers.
Responses to Emily's article: