User Guide

Installation

features is a pure-python package implementing feature set algebra as commonly used in linguistics. It runs under both Python 2.7 and 3.3+ and is available from PyPI. To install it using pip, run the following command:

$ pip install features

For a system-wide install, this typically requires administrator access. For an isolated installation, you can run the same inside a virtualenv or a venv (Python 3.3+ only).

The pip-command will automatically download and install the (pure-python) fileconfig and concepts packages (plus dependencies) from PyPI. The latter provides the lower level Formal Concept Analysis (FCA) algorithms on which features is based.

Features is essentially a convenience wrapper around the FCA-functionality of concepts.

Feature systems

Features includes some predefined feature systems that you can try out immediately and will be used as example in this documentation. See below on how to define, persist, and load you own feature systems/definitions. To load a feature system, pass its name to features.FeatureSystem:

>>> import features

>>> fs = features.FeatureSystem('plural')

>>> fs
<FeatureSystem('plural') of 6 atoms 22 featuresets>

The built-in feature systems are defined in the config.ini file in the package directory (usually, this will be Lib/site-packages/concepts in your Python directory). You can either directly define new systems within a Python script or create your own INI-file(s) with definitions so that you can load and reuse feature systems in different scripts.

The definition of a feature system is stored in its context object. It is basically a cross-table giving the features (properties) for each thing to be described (object):

>>> print(fs.context)  
<Context object mapping 6 objects to 10 properties at 0x...>
      |+1|-1|+2|-2|+3|-3|+sg|+pl|-sg|-pl|
    1s|X |  |  |X |  |X |X  |   |   |X  |
    1p|X |  |  |X |  |X |   |X  |X  |   |
    2s|  |X |X |  |  |X |X  |   |   |X  |
    2p|  |X |X |  |  |X |   |X  |X  |   |
    3s|  |X |  |X |X |  |X  |   |   |X  |
    3p|  |X |  |X |X |  |   |X  |X  |   |

>>> fs.context.objects
('1s', '1p', '2s', '2p', '3s', '3p')

>>> fs.context.properties
('+1', '-1', '+2', '-2', '+3', '-3', '+sg', '+pl', '-sg', '-pl')

>>> fs.context.bools  
[(True, False, False, True, False, True, True, False, False, True),
 (True, False, False, True, False, True, False, True, True, False),
 (False, True, True, False, False, True, True, False, False, True),
 (False, True, True, False, False, True, False, True, True, False),
 (False, True, False, True, True, False, True, False, False, True),
 (False, True, False, True, True, False, False, True, True, False)]

In other words, it provides a mapping from objects to features and vice versa. Check the documentation of the concepts package for further information on its full functionality.

>>> fs.context.intension(['1s', '1p'])  # common features?
('+1', '-2', '-3')

>>> fs.context.extension(['-3', '+sg'])  # common objects?
('1s', '2s')

Feature sets

All feature system contain a contradicting feature set with all features that refers to no object:

>>> fs.infimum
FeatureSet('+1 -1 +2 -2 +3 -3 +sg +pl -sg -pl')

>>> fs.infimum.concept.extent
()

As well as a maximally general tautological feature set with no features referring to all objects:

>>> fs.supremum
FeatureSet('')

>>> fs.supremum.concept.extent
('1s', '1p', '2s', '2p', '3s', '3p')

Use the feature system to iterate over all defined feature sets in shortlex extent order:

>>> for f in fs:
...     print('%s %s' % (f, f.concept.extent))
[+1 -1 +2 -2 +3 -3 +sg +pl -sg -pl] ()
[+1 +sg] ('1s',)
[+1 +pl] ('1p',)
[+2 +sg] ('2s',)
[+2 +pl] ('2p',)
[+3 +sg] ('3s',)
[+3 +pl] ('3p',)
[+1] ('1s', '1p')
[-3 +sg] ('1s', '2s')
[-2 +sg] ('1s', '3s')
[-3 +pl] ('1p', '2p')
[-2 +pl] ('1p', '3p')
[+2] ('2s', '2p')
[-1 +sg] ('2s', '3s')
[-1 +pl] ('2p', '3p')
[+3] ('3s', '3p')
[+sg] ('1s', '2s', '3s')
[+pl] ('1p', '2p', '3p')
[-3] ('1s', '1p', '2s', '2p')
[-2] ('1s', '1p', '3s', '3p')
[-1] ('2s', '2p', '3s', '3p')
[] ('1s', '1p', '2s', '2p', '3s', '3p')

The string representations will show the smallest possible notation for each feature set by default (shortlex minimum). The full representation is also available (and an extent-based representation):

>>> fs('1sg').string
'+1 +sg'

>>> fs('1sg').string_maximal
'+1 -2 -3 +sg -pl'

>>> fs('1sg').string_extent
'1s'

To use the maximal representation for __str__(), put str_maximal = true into the configuration file section (see below).

Retrieval

You can call the feature system with an iterable of features to retrieve one of its feature sets:

>>> fs(['+1', '+sg'])
FeatureSet('+1 +sg')

Usually, it is more convenient to let the system extract the features from a string:

>>> fs('+1 +sg')
FeatureSet('+1 +sg')

Leading plusses can be omitted. Spaces are optional. Case, order, and duplication of features are ignored.

>>> fs('2 pl')
FeatureSet('+2 +pl')

>>> fs('SG3sg')
FeatureSet('+3 +sg')

Note that commas are not allowed inside the string.

Uniqueness

Feature sets are singletons. The constructor is also idempotent:

>>> fs('1sg') is fs('1sg')
True

>>> fs(fs('1sg')) is fs('1sg')
True

All different possible ways to notate a feature set map to the same instance:

>>> fs('+1 -2 -3 -sg +pl') is fs('1pl')
True

>>> fs('+sg') is fs('-pl')
True

Notations are equivalent, when they refer to the same set of objects (have the same extent).

Comparisons

Compatibility tests:

>>> fs('+1').incompatible_with(fs('+3'))
True

>>> fs('sg').complement_of(fs('pl'))
True

>>> fs('-1').subcontrary_with(fs('-2'))
True

>>> fs('+1').orthogonal_to(fs('+sg'))
True

Set inclusion (subsumption):

>>> fs('') < fs('-3') <= fs('-3') < fs('+1') < fs('1sg')
True

Operations

Intersection (join, generalization, closest feature set that subsumes the given ones):

>>> fs('1sg') % fs('2sg')  # common features, or?
FeatureSet('-3 +sg')

Intersect an iterable of feature sets:

>>> fs.join([fs('+1'), fs('+2'), fs('1sg')])
FeatureSet('-3')

Union (meet, unification, closest feature set that implies the given ones):

>>> fs('-1') ^ fs('-2')  # commbined features, and?
FeatureSet('+3')

Unify an iterable of feature sets:

>>> fs.meet([fs('+1'), fs('+sg'), fs('-3')])
FeatureSet('+1 +sg')

Relations

Immediately implied/subsumed neighbors.

>>> fs('+1').upper_neighbors
[FeatureSet('-3'), FeatureSet('-2')]

>>> fs('+1').lower_neighbors
[FeatureSet('+1 +sg'), FeatureSet('+1 +pl')]

Complete set of implied/subsumed neighbors.

>>> list(fs('+1').upset())
[FeatureSet('+1'), FeatureSet('-3'), FeatureSet('-2'), FeatureSet('')]

>>> list(fs('+1').downset())  
[FeatureSet('+1'),
 FeatureSet('+1 +sg'), FeatureSet('+1 +pl'),
 FeatureSet('+1 -1 +2 -2 +3 -3 +sg +pl -sg -pl')]

Definition

If you do not need to save your definition, you can directly create a system from an ASCII-art style table:

>>> fs = features.make_features('''
...      |+male|-male|+adult|-adult|
... man  |  X  |     |   X  |      |
... woman|     |  X  |   X  |      |
... boy  |  X  |     |      |   X  |
... girl |     |  X  |      |   X  |
... ''', str_maximal=False)

>>> fs  
<FeatureSystem object of 4 atoms 10 featuresets at 0x...>

>>> for f in fs:
...     print('%s %s' % (f, f.concept.extent))
[+male -male +adult -adult] ()
[+male +adult] ('man',)
[-male +adult] ('woman',)
[+male -adult] ('boy',)
[-male -adult] ('girl',)
[+adult] ('man', 'woman')
[+male] ('man', 'boy')
[-male] ('woman', 'girl')
[-adult] ('boy', 'girl')
[] ('man', 'woman', 'boy', 'girl')

Note that the strings representing the objects and features need to be disjoint and features cannot be in substring relation.

To load feature systems by name, create an INI-file with your configurations, for example:

# phonemes.ini - define distinctive features

[vowels]
description = Distinctive vowel place features
str_maximal = true
context =
   |+high|-high|+low|-low|+back|-back|+round|-round|
  i|  X  |     |    |  X |     |  X  |      |   X  |
  y|  X  |     |    |  X |     |  X  |   X  |      |
  ?|  X  |     |    |  X |  X  |     |      |   X  |
  u|  X  |     |    |  X |  X  |     |   X  |      |
  e|     |  X  |    |  X |     |  X  |      |   X  |
  ø|     |  X  |    |  X |     |  X  |   X  |      |
  ?|     |  X  |    |  X |  X  |     |      |   X  |
  o|     |  X  |    |  X |  X  |     |   X  |      |
  æ|     |  X  |  X |    |     |  X  |      |   X  |
  œ|     |  X  |  X |    |     |  X  |   X  |      |
  ?|     |  X  |  X |    |  X  |     |      |   X  |
  ?|     |  X  |  X |    |  X  |     |   X  |      |

Add your config file, overriding existing sections with the same name:

>>> features.add_config('examples/phonemes.ini')

If the filename is relative, it is resolved relative to the file where the add_config() function was called. Check the documentation of the fileconfig package for details.

Load your feature system:

>>> fs = features.FeatureSystem('vowels')

>>> fs
<FeatureSystem('vowels') of 12 atoms 55 featuresets>

Retrieve feature sets, extents and intents:

>>> print(fs('+high'))
[+high -low]

>>> print('high round = %s, %s' % fs('high round').concept.extent)
high round = y, u

>>> print('i, e, o = %s' % fs.lattice[('i', 'e', 'o')].intent)
i, e, o = -low

Logical relations between feature pairs (excluding orthogonal pairs):

>>> print(fs.context.relations())  
+high  complement   -high
+low   complement   -low
+back  complement   -back
+round complement   -round
+high  incompatible +low
+high  implication  -low
+low   implication  -high
-high  subcontrary  -low