Home / Research / Cluster 3 / Theme 2

Language technology and communication

Contact University of Deusto for this project

Josuka Díaz
Department of Software Engineering
Faculty of Engineering (ESIDE)
Avda. Universidades, 24
48007 - Bilbao - Spain
Phone: +34 944 132806
Fax: +34 944 139101

Contact Tilburg University for this project

Antal van den Bosch
Dept. of Communication and Information Sciences
Faculty of Humanities
Phone: +31 13 4663117
Fax: +31 13 4662982

University of Deusto

Language technology plays a key role in the age of information and communication. It is a field of research that began in the 1950s, soon after the first digital computers were available, with the initial goal of enabling machines to translate written text. Today it has become a pervasive technology that is present in a multitude of applications, ranging from Web search engines to mobile communication devises. However, given the remarkable complexity of understanding human language in everyday situations, many of its objectives are still unattained and continue to be a scientific challenge.

Relevance to future of European societies
Multilingual publishing and communication are activities that strongly benefit from technology. Mechanical means are absolutely indispensable to promote parity among European official languages, and to help preserve other European minority languages.

Tilburg University

The ¿Language Technology and Communication¿ theme builds on the research fields of computational linguistics and speech technology. The two fields can together be described as ¿the scientific study of language from a computational perspective¿. Both fields develop computational models of language processing through empirical methods. Typically, model development is data-driven, and models are tested on realistic tasks in which their performance is matched against that of humans (typically, automatic systems are less accurate than experts, but very much faster). On the one hand, theoretical insights from both fields feed back to computer science and linguistics, while on the other hand the fields produce readily usable technologies such as machine translation, human-computer dialogue systems, proofing and authoring tools, and speech synthesis and recognition.

Relevance to future of European societies
Europe is a multilingual community. With the addition of new member states to the Union and with the ever increasing availability of digital information from the past and the present, there is a growing demand for automated technologies to support the work of translators, communication managers, and ¿knowledge workers¿ in general, as well as serve the public better and at a wider scale. NLP technologies such as automatic translation, summarization, human-computer interaction, and multilingual search are all highly desired commodities. In developing these technologies, Europe needs to be looking at alternatives to being increasingly dependent on US-based companies such as Google and Microsoft.
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