29 March 2013

Interview with Rodolfo Maslias, Head of Terminology Coordination Unit, European Parliament

Rodolfo Maslias is Greek and studied languages and law in Greece, Germany, Spain and Luxembourg. He worked as translator at the European Parliament since 1981 and since 2008 he is heading the Terminology Coordination Unit. He taught translation at the Ionian University of Corfu and Multilingualism and Terminology at the University of Luxembourg. He was Head of Cabinet of the Minister of Culture in Greece, cultural advisor to the Mayor of Athens and Secretary General of the Network of European Capitals of Culture. He is member of the European Cultural Parliament.

Please tell us about your career and your current responsibilities.
I joined the European Parliament in March 1981 as a translator in the Greek Unit, immediately after my postgraduate studies in languages. I worked in the Greek Unit until 2008, with two interruptions for two-year secondments to public posts in the cultural field in Greece and a parallel position as Professor of Translation and Terminology at the Ionian University of Corfu. In 2008 I was asked to set up a new unit to coordinate the terminology work done in the 23 translation units and to represent the European Parliament in the context of interinstitutional cooperation on the management of the European terminology database IATE.

Over the last few years, European Parliament has made a huge investment in language technologies. Do you think this tendency will continue under the European crisis conditions?
Especially in this period of crisis, language technologies need to be more widely used and developed. The European Union institutions possess the largest linguistic structure in the world, with some 5 000 translators dealing with 506 official language combinations, who translate thousands of pages using a huge translation memory in 24 languages and an interactive multilingual terminology database containing more than 10 million terms. It would be a terrible waste of resources not to use the best technology available in order to respond to changing needs in this era of communication and globalisation.

What is your vision of language technologies in Europe? Do you think that the multilingualism will continue to be one of the primary targets for European Union?
Multilingualism is one of the cornerstones of European integration. It is one of the democratic rights of the representatives of the 27 – soon to be 28 – peoples of the European Union, and to me it is also a cultural right of EU citizens and an integral part of the diversity of European culture, which I consider to be the soul of Europe. Although, of course, we use a common language of communication – and pivot languages for translation – in order to make the European legislative process more efficient, citizens will always have the right to use their own language, since European legislation becomes the national legislation of each of the Member States. I would even add that regional languages will become an increasingly important issue, since protecting them as a cultural asset is also one of the EU’s primary objectives.

How can you describe the interconnection between academic research and the needs of European Union? In other words, do you think that European graduates have the same set of skills and knowledge you would like them to be have?
New academic topics in the field of linguistics and translation, such as computational linguistics, terminology and e-lexicography, provide European graduates with very advanced skills. Cooperation between universities (through programmes such as Erasmus), multilingual curricula and enhanced global communication also offer the young generation excellent skills. One of the biggest advantages of our unit is that it can add to the knowledge of the numerous trainees and young researchers who come to the Terminology Coordination Unit on traineeships or study visits.

What is your advice to the recent graduates (masters and PhDs) looking for a job at governmental organizations? What the graduates should be prepared for and what can they expect?
Rather than governmental organisations, I would prefer to talk about intergovernmental or international institutions such as the United Nations and the European Union. The young people who come into contact with us and our work are fascinated by the opportunities for international teamwork, the huge size of these organisations and the high importance of their work. As an illustration, suffice it to say that every three months we have to select six trainees from among more than 1 500 candidates from all the Member States for traineeships in terminology. If these young people subsequently secure a job in such an organisation, they will have to follow the slow and cumbersome procedures of public administration and cope with the constraints imposed by the complicated and strict rules needed for such huge structures, while at the same time making the most of their own knowledge and creativity.

What is your opinion on the near future of machine translation and NLP in general? Which research directions and development areas will grow in the next few years?
All the European institutions are already using CAT tools and cooperating in using the best machine translation systems and adapting them to the very specific needs of the EU, which possesses the world’s biggest linguistic machine. Such cooperation is a wonderful challenge, involving testers from all languages, with different specialisations, who intervene at different stages of the European legislative process. We are also cooperating in the area of terminology, giving very careful consideration to ways of providing translators with reliable solutions via the integrated workflow and translation tools they use. It is very important that the solutions should be flexible and capable of adapting to the vertiginous development of language technologies.

Could you give us some examples of terminology tools and services that are provided to the translators via the European projects and other means?
The greatest service we provide is of course the IATE database, which covers more than a hundred domains and subdomains and is constructed – often with the use of macros to facilitate data entry – by the thousands of translators as they translate, and managed by the terminology coordination units of ten institutions via an exemplary cooperation arrangement that allows consolidation, completion of languages, definitions and references, elimination of duplicates, and communication and feedback, along with a validation process enabling most of the entries to be added to the public version of the database, which receives an average of 3 600 hits per hour from all over the world. We also provide a collection of links to highly specialised glossaries compiled by the various EU institutions and relating to the topics translated, as well as pre processed terminology folders created on the basis of cooperation with Parliament’s political bodies. Thanks to this cooperation we receive advance warning of the texts to be sent for translation, enabling us to carry out term extraction in advance and to provide translators with terminology tables in parallel with the text for translation allocated through the workflow system.

Can you tell us about your collaboration with Universities around the world?
The Terminology Coordination Unit has launched terminology projects in conjunction with specialised university departments. Students receive a template enabling them to create IATE entries under the supervision of their terminology lecturers , which are then validated by our terminologists. This project is still in a pilot phase, having started with five universities (in Bulgaria, Belgium, Italy, Latvia and Luxembourg). Our relations with the academic world are supported by our website, which has attracted more than 150 000 users since it was launched in mid-2011. This semester we also instituted cooperation with the University of Luxembourg, which has included a module on terminology management in the curriculum for its masters programme ‘Learning in a Multilingual and Multicultural Environment’. Lastly, since our unit’s inception it has organised very successful and much appreciated seminars on ‘Terminology in the Changing World of Translation’, inviting university lecturers and other prominent speakers from the world of linguistics. In early 2014, the next seminar in this series will focus on ‘Terminology in Academia’.

About the author:
Konstantinos Chatzitheodorou, worked as Machine Translation Expert at the European Parliament's Directorate-General for Translation (DG TRAD) in Luxembourg. He holds a BA in Italian Language and Literature and MSc in Informatics. His Master's Thesis focused on optimization and evaluation of Machine Translation. Currently he is pursuing his PhD in Computational Linguistics. In the last years, Konstantinos has been also involved as researcher in several EU projects on Computational Lexicography and Terminology.

27 March 2013

A guideline to move from academia to industry - part 2

Leadership, development skills and the rest.
This is the second part of the guideline describing personal and professional aspects of the career moving process for academics that will to explore other career options.
In addition to the three groups of factors influencing hiring decisions described in the first part of the guide (available at the NLPpeople.com website), there are many more aspects that make your candidacy look better or worse for employers.
In many situations, the final decision on your job application is not dependent only on your knowledge and ability to integrate into the company workflow, but is also triggered by many subjective components that you can try to focus on in your CV or during job interview. 
  1. Leadership and team player skills. In today’s world, the majority of professionals balance between integration (i.e. to be a leader) and differentiation (to be a team player). Speaking from my experience as a person involved in academic research for many years, team playing is one of the most significant problems that people coming from academia can meet. Many headhunters and HRs know about this potential issue and one of your primary goals should be to convince them that you are able to find equilibrium between being ambitious and being a team player.

    One way to do it is to list and describe collaborative projects you participated in and projects, which were driven by you in a balanced way. It is essential to remember that your skills and knowledge will not only benefit your own career but the ones of your colleagues too. Your capability to motivate people and to infect them with enthusiasm can be core for your new company or institution. But at the same time, nobody who intends to be effective leader can reach outstanding results operating independently of team.
  1. Be a self-starter. The candidate's ability to quickly find elegant and fortunately comprehensive approach to solve strategic or technical problems in your field is very much demanded for many of the positions you will be probably applying for. Passion for global solutions is based on your in-domain knowledge, erudition, intuition and speed of thinking. Do not hesitate to demonstrate to the employer your self-starter characteristics along with a proven record of personal motivation.
  1. Decision making. Depending on the position you are applying for, a requirement for solid decision making skills can vary from optional to essential. As a manager, executive or a lead you will have to make regular difficult decisions about work and its progress that you don’t have to make in an entry-level position. Usually, decision making is linked with problem solving, negotiating solutions and information extraction. A good way to reflect your solid decision making skills, if necessary, is not to focus on demonstrating that you are innovative in your approach, but to clearly show that you are able to apply your valuable skills to make informative decisions of different levels of importance.
  1. Development skills. I don’t think I will be wrong ranking your ability to efficiently implement your ideas as the second most important characteristic for the majority of tech professional and researcher positions. Normally, recent graduates are interested in entry-level jobs that require convincing your potential employers that you have transferable skills to be an asset to your new company. Development skills, especially programming, is one of these skills that you can employ on a daily basis in order to succeed in your chosen career. The tools and techniques that you know how to apply help you to find out how to deal with the challenges you'll face at work in an effort-cheap way.
  1. Professional network. By the end of your PhD or master program your network is usually quite large, it is internationally spread and not overlapping with the network that your future boss (probably spent many years in industry) has. People you know and people who know you is an important consideration that you should not underestimate.
  1. Presentation. Don’t forget the emotional component that drives the decision making process of your application processing. Presentation of your career history is very important. You should demonstrate you are able (1) to clearly communicate detailed information both verbally and a well-written document and (2) you possess high-level interpersonal and communication skills with the capacity to build constructive and positive relationships with your future colleagues.
Keep in mind that you have a lot to offer your new company. Remember that job hunting is a long and sometimes tiring process. This is a time when you have to be smart, fast, disciplined and persistent towards your goals.
Good luck to everyone who opts for a life in fast lane. We are at your service to help you to find new opportunities at our website.

About the author:
Maxim Khalilov, PhD is the R&D manager at TAUS B.V and the co-founder of NLPPeople.comHe is a former post-doctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, intern at Macquarie University (Australia) and a PhD student at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain).

26 March 2013

BigHand shortlisted as finalist in HealthInvestor Awards 2013

BigHand the leading provider of digital dictation and speech recognition technology to the UK Healthcare market has today announced that it has been shortlisted as a finalist in the ‘Technology provider of the year’ category for the HealthInvestor Awards 2013.
Name of Author: Chris Bell, Tel: 0207 940 5907

London, UK, 26th March 2013BigHand the leading provider of digital dictation and speech recognition technology to the UK Healthcare market has today announced that it has been shortlisted as a finalist in the ‘Technology provider of the year’ category for the HealthInvestor Awards 2013.
One of the most prestigious and well attended awards ceremonies in the industry, the HealthInvestor Awards recognises innovation in the sector and promotes excellence. With industry experts set to judge on over 20 categories, ranging from Primary care provider of the year to IT innovator of the year, the awards are set to highlight the key contributions that many organisations have made to the healthcare industry in 2012.

BigHand has been shortlisted as one of the eight finalists for ‘Technology provider of the year’ after demonstrating consistent and measurable results to the healthcare IT market. In the last 12 months BigHand has been selected by 16 new Healthcare organisations to help alleviate correspondence backlogs, ease internal inefficiencies and improve overall turnaround times of documentation for patients and GPs.

One such example is BigHand’s solution on the BlackBerry®, which also helps to mobilise an organisation’s workforce by enabling Clinicians to dictate and send from anywhere. Traditionally digital dictation and speech recognition was deployed across a desktop environment; by being able to dictate across a mobile platform, BigHand has enabled organisations to innovate its workforce and existing working practices.

In addition, the Trust-wide benefits released at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust in 2012 were evident to see, with a 20% improvement in the turnaround of clinical letters within five working days since the implementation of BigHand’s digital dictation solution.
James Kippenberger, Managing Director, UK Healthcare at BigHand commented; “Being selected as a finalist in the ‘Technology provider of the year’ category is a testament to how far BigHand has come in the Healthcare market in the past few years. It is now great to see all the hard work we have put into developing our product and services to meet the increasing demands and needs of the Healthcare industry is fully taking effect”.

During 2012 in particular, BigHand finalised the development of its latest product iteration, a digital dictation solution incorporating highly innovative speech understanding technology from M*Modal, taking the complexities of speech recognition software to the next level for its customers.
The winners of the HealthInvestor Awards will be announced at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London on Wednesday 12th June 2013.

Chris Bell, Marketing Manager, UK Healthcare, BigHand Ltd, chris.bell@bighand.com or follow us on Twitter @BigHandHealth

About HealthInvestor Awards 2013
The HealthInvestor Awards has become the must-attend event in the industry calendar. With an attendance of over 1,100 leading figures from the independent healthcare space in 2012, the Awards promote excellence and recognise innovation in the sector.

About BigHand
The BigHand Group supports over 170,000 healthcare and legal professionals globally, across 1,600 organisations, and is based out of London, Chicago, Sydney and Toronto. BigHand is a Microsoft Gold Partner and BlackBerry ISV Partner. BigHand is the leading provider of digital dictation and speech recognition technology to the UK Healthcare market. As a UK developer, BigHand has a 20+ strong development and products team based in the UK. Further information is available at http://www.bighand.com

25 March 2013

A guideline to move from academia to industry - part 1.

Knowledge and skills transfer.
Early or later, almost every academic worker starts facing a big dilemma: whether to stay in academia or to move to industry. There is no doubt that both ways of career development have evident and obscure pros and cons. It is also clear that nobody except you can decide wither to pursue career inside academia or to explore other options.
But let’s assume that the decision to take a step changing your career is taken. And you start looking for the entrance door to the world of business that is relatively new and unknown for you.
Unfortunately, very soon you may realize that the skills that you possess, and that were rated highly at the University, do not look too appealing for people hiring for companies. The problem is that industrial and academic sectors demand the skillsets, which do not completely overlap with each other.
Regardless of whether you are a recent PhD or Masters graduate, a post doc or a mature university professor, you will meet similar factors influencing the final employer’s decision.
  1. Knowledge. This is obviously the most valuable skill that you have. The knowledge develops the way you think about technical and general problems, it makes the decision making process more full and informative and gives you a set of tools to address many technical challenges. But you should remember that it does not necessarily make you ready for taking immediate action that is required in many real-world situations. 

    The reality is that the potential industrial employer is mostly interested in how can you use your knowledge in practice rather than how you demonstrate your research competence. A general recommendation from me is not to list the research projects that you have participated or coordinated, but to show in your CV how a fundamental idea led to the real product (software or prototype, for example) or that you, at least, possess an detailed understanding of best practices in your field.
  1. Critical thinking. This is the skill that you learn during your study that is probably considered the most valuable by your future employer. Fundamentally critical thinking means that you can identify advantages and disadvantages of approaches to address a certain problem proposed by other people. Apart from the knowledge base it requires the high level of intellectual capability that is scalable and transferable to industrial settings.
    My recommendation is to demonstrate your high critical thinking abilities in your CV focusing on the way you think about problems, goals and priorities. For that you should probably rethink the core idea of your PhD or Masters study: practically it can be useful to take PhD as a research training leading to a professional qualification rather than a solid scientific work. 
  2. Communication and social skills. Speaking from my experience, the lack of communication skills is one of the most significant problems that many academic people are facing. Relatively close environment, every day thinking about fundamental research problems and absence of need to motivate other people on the daily basis sometimes lead to formation of an introvert, reserved and even antisocial character. 
    Depending on the institution you are coming from, there are some or several opportunities to extend your ideas to other people: conferences, internal meetings, invited talks and others. However, I met a lot of mature scientists that have given hundreds of talks, but still have their presentation skills at a low level.
Recruiters who specialize in the PhD job market are perfectly aware of this potential problem. That is why one of your primary goals is to convince them that you are ready for effective teamwork.
The only mean that you have at the first step in finding a job is your CV or resume through which you are advised to (1) prove your developed communication skills and (2) show that you are a highly intelligent, but open-minded person. 
One more significant strength that you may possess is the intercultural communication skills. Many of the modern PhD and Masters educational programs are conducted within an international environment. Regardless of your status, whether you belong to the PhD/Masters student community or to senior scientific staff, you meet and regularly communicate with representatives of different nationalities. It inevitably raises your multilingual and intercultural communication skills. So, don’t forget to state it explicitly in your CV or resume.
In the second part of this guidance I will cover other relevant skills that recruiters and HRs find relevant for academic candidates changing way of their career development.

About the author: 

Maxim Khalilov, PhD is the R&D manager at TAUS B.V and the co-founder of NLPPeople.comHe is a former post-doctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, intern at Macquarie University (Australia) and a PhD student at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain).

21 March 2013

Interview with Marta R. Costa-jussà

Some people would dispute that academic life is a boring and routine. However, in many cases it is not true. NLPPeople is delighted to present an interview with one of the brightest minds in the field of machine translation Dr. Marta R. Costa-jussà. She tells us about her exciting life full of travels and cutting-edge projects she has been involved in.

How did you get to the world of machine translation? Please tell us where and what did you study and what is your previous research experience?
I entered the world of machine translation by the end of 2004 when I started my PhD at the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC, Barcelona). My research group specialized in Speech Recognition, but the members of the group had been working in machine translation for two years when I joined them. At that time, I had just finished my degree in Telecommunication Engineering and my only experience in research had been a six-month internship at LIMSI-CNRS (Paris) where I worked in language modeling for Speech Recognition under the supervision of Dr Jean-Luc Gauvain. I was offered to stay at LIMSI-CNRS and working in the TC-STAR project, but for personal reasons (I was getting married that year), I decided to go back to Barcelona. However, it was my internship at LIMSI-CNRS which encouraged me to start my research career. Once in the UPC, I had the choice of doing my PhD either in speech synthesis or in machine translation. Given my recent experience with language modeling, I was recommended to follow the second option. Looking back, I am quite happy with my choice, since I joined a pretty young group, which was very well-supervised by Prof Mariño and Prof José A. R. Fonollosa and I had the opportunity of studying a quite new research area: statistical machine translation. There was a lot of work to be done at that moment in that area, and there were not many consolidated groups working on it.
After my PhD, I have worked for almost four years at Barcelona Media Innovation Center under the supervision of Dr Rafael E. Banchs and with the support of the Juan de la Cierva Research Fellowship Program. During those years I have visited Institute for Infocomm Research (Singapore) for a 1-month stay and the Universidade de Sao Paulo (Brazil) for a 8-month stay. I have participated in 12 European and Spanish national projects. I have organized workshops in the areas of machine translation and information retrieval (ML4HMT 2011/2012, ESIRMT and HyTRA 2012/2013, CREDISLAS 2012) and I regularly serve in committees of international conferences. My research publications include more than 15 international scientific journals and 40+ international conferences. I have been scientific consultant for two translation companies (TaWithYou and UniversalDoctor) during several years. Recently, I have just joined the Institute for Infocomm Research under the supervision of Dr Haizhou Li and with the support of an International Outgoing Fellowship Marie Curie
Where are you now and what are your future plans? What are your current responsibilities?
I am starting an International Outgoing Fellowship Marie Curie Action which is a two-year project funded by the Seventh Program of the European Commission. I will spend the first year at the Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R, Singapore) and the second one at the UPC . The project I am starting to work on is entitled IMTraP (Integration of Machine Translation Paradigms). As I am just starting it, it is difficult to think about my mid-term future plans. As long term future plans I do not refuse being a full professor at the University where I studied: the UPC or to work in any country of the world, as long as my career is not in conflict with my family plans.
How difficult was it to find a job in academia after graduation?
Well, I have to admit that I either I was quite lucky or my hard work during my PhD thesis was rewarded, but finding a job in academia after graduation was quite easy for me. In 2008, I applied for a 'Juan de la Cierva' program before finishing my PhD and I just got it. So I graduated, and after that I started this three-year project, which I had defined in the area of cross-language information retrieval to be implemented at the Barcelona Media Innovation Center.
My main alternatives to this option where going abroad in Europe, Asia or America or working on a research project at some research center or University in Barcelona. I had quite a few offers to work abroad in the Netherlands, California, Singapore and Paris, among others. Although following any of these offers could have been quite enriching for me and my research career, I decided to stay in Barcelona (I was happily expecting my first son). However, I took advantage of the freedom of being attached to my own project and during the 'Juan de la Cierva' three-year program, I did several fruitful international research visits. In fact, I stayed one month at I2R and eight months at the Universidade de Sao Paulo (USP).
What is your advice to the recent graduates (masters and PhDs) looking for a job in academia?
I would say that any job seeker in academia should be aware of the fellowships in their countries and in the country they are looking for a job. Also, they should be aware of big research projects that are being developed at that moment which could have funding for researchers. And last, but not least, job seekers should have networking actions very active. By the way, do not forget to be subscribed to NLPPeople.com!
When preparing for a job, try to be informed of what are the most important merits in the country or institution where you are looking for the job. For example, in case of Spain (and it may be extended to the rest of Europe), most important criteria according to which employers make their choice is to have publications in JCR-indexed journals.
When choosing a job, try to incorporate into a hard-working and active group where your supervisor is accessible. Obviously, try to work within well-known institutions and well-positioned supervisors.
How can you describe the interconnection between academic research and industrial adoption in the field of NLP?
In my experience, this interconnection (at least in Spain) is still very immature, since academic research and industrial applications are quite far away. I do not think that the academic research in Spain directly produces industrial applications in the same country. This may directly relate to the fact that the Return Of Investment in research is not satisfactory. There is a huge gap between the research papers that are published and the industrial products. There are no frameworks related to motivate interaction between academic research and industrial applications, since as I mentioned most important merits for academics are just publications.
However, there are spontaneously appearing interesting start-ups that incorporate state-of-the-art technology (e.g. TaWithYou that provides MT technology or Verbio that provides Speech recognition and Speech Synthesis technology).
What do you think about the near future of machine translation and NLP in general – which research directions and development areas will grow in the next few years?
Technically, in the area of MT, I think that hybrid machine translation systems have a long way to go, since they can take advantage of different paradigms that have been studied. The introduction of morphology, syntax and semantics in the SMT systems is a key aspect that it is being developed and I guess it will be further developed in the next years.
But... also I do not deny (and it would be great!) a breakthrough in machine translation that could lead to a novel paradigm in the near future.
Maxim Khalilov

About the author:
Maxim Khalilov, PhD is the R&D manager at TAUS B.V and the co-founder of NLPPeople.com. He is a former post-doctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, intern at Macquarie University (Australia) and a PhD student at the Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain).

20 March 2013

ICT 2013: Create, Connect Grow

The ICT conference will take place at the beginning of November 2013 in Vilnius, Lithuania. It will be the first opportunity to learn the details of research funding for ICT-related projects under Horizon 2020, the new framework programme. 
Horizon 2020 will support the development of ICT in Science (in future and emerging technologies or e-Infrastructures); in industrial leadership (such as smart systems, robotics, photonics, etc.) and in societal challenges (such as eHealth, eGovernment and eSkills.), and with a special instrument for SMEs. 

The Call for Networking Sessions for the ICT conference is open now, with the deadline 26 April 2013. 

19 March 2013

One day of an NLP student’s life

Are you currently looking for a master’s program in Natural Language Processing? Feel free to consider Europe then. Yes, we all know that the US is known to be the best place to study NLP, but in case you don’t have a spare 100 000$, there is quite a bunch of European programs, including those in France and Germany for example, where you don’t need to pay a more than 500 euro (!) per year. And this also covers a medical insurance.
As you might have already understood I am a NLP student. After I have finished my Bachelor’s degree in French/German linguistics, I was looking for an interesting graduate program in the field of computational linguistics, and there was nothing like this I could find in my home country, Russia.
So, I decided to go somewhere else, and even far far away, if needed. For several quite obvious reasons I chose European education.  My choice in Europe was France and I never regretted it. Why France? First, there is a number of quite different and varied programs proposed in France, varying from NLP applied in foreign language learning to statistical NLP for different purposes. Then, France is a fantastically beautiful country. Being a student in France you can freely travel to within Europe.  And finally, I am fluent in French, and this a big advantage, because the first year of studies was conducted in French.  
I was accepted to 8 universities all over France, and chose the one in Nancy, region of Lorraine. The master’s program proposed here is called “MSc in Cognitive Science” with NLP as one of specializations. During the first year we studied a wide range of courses, like Algorithms for Artificial Intelligence, Neural networks, Logics, as well as some introductory disciplines for NLP (maths for Computer Sciences, Python programming, etc.)  A multidisciplinary program like this allows you not only to discover the huge field of Cognitive Science, but also to see the applications of NLP in interesting context. For example, my first year’s course work was about the application of NLP (language generation) in Serious Games (in virtual environments, like SecondLife). 
So, if you are curious to know, how we spend our study time on the way to the Master’s degree you are welcome to read further!
8.00-10.00 Yep, it’s hard to wake up at this hour, but I’m motivated – today we have a class of Statistical NLP, a necessary and even obligatory discipline for almost any computational linguist these days. Today we are listening to a lecture on smoothing technics for language models used in many NLP applications, like speech recognition or statistical machine translation. As usual, at the end of the class the professor gives us practical stuff to resolve. And I should say, it’s not that obvious to deal with all these formulas, you’d better be good in maths \:\)
10.00-12.00 The time has come for Grammatical Formalisms course, we can forget for a while about statistics and step into a more symbolical NLP class. And honestly, I like grammars \:\) There is something fascinating about all these different ways to manipulate a sentence structure! Having a linguistic background, I’ve always dealt with grammars, but in a completely opposite manner. Here we should chase NPs (nominal phrases) and VPs (verbal phrases), adjoin parse-trees, and face feature equations. 
Today’s class is about TAG  - Tree Adjoining Grammar. For me it’s the simplest formalism, as we’ve already seen some of it, during the work at one of the projects this year. 
12.00-13.00 Lunch at the campus’ cafeteria. Well, it’s not the best place to eat, even around campus, but not having much time to go anywhere else, I brace myself to eat a panini (a kind of a hot sandwich) with chicken. It’s not that bad actually, but after weeks on paninis, I would rather go for something else! Coming to France, don’t forget, that it’s the country eating the most of sandwiches in the world. So, you’ll find them everywhere, from train stations to restaurants, hot, cold, with all kind of stuffing, and in all kinds of quality as well. Regretfully, sandwiches are not my thing. 
Lunch time is always a time of our group, when we can discuss everything, like movies watched on weekend or recent methods in syntactic parsing. Studying NLP in Nancy, I met people from all over the world, as this university program hosts Erasmus Mundus students, actually there are only 3 French students out of a group of 10. So, we’re never out of topics! After today’s almost 30-minutes discussion about our forthcoming trip to Luxembourg, we finally quit the cafeteria and head to the bus stop, because we have a work meeting with our software project tutor in a regional computer science lab. 
14.00-15.00 Project meeting. Studying NLP is about practicing in many ways, so, besides going to regular classes every day, we have specific projects in different disciplines. Today’s meeting concerns Applications for NLP class, and our small sub-group of 4 girls is working on the creation of the linguistics resources for a natural language generator. We show the code for our small grammar created within the TAG-formalism and discuss its flaws with our tutor.
15.00-17.00 Still in the lab, we have some time to discuss another project among us, in Corpus Linguistics this time. We are to elaborate a solution to dialogue act prediction, given a set of dialogues with a virtual agent. A classifier based on conditional random fields in proposed by one of the members. Seems to be interesting, we’re going to stick to it, I think. 
Finally going home. It was a long day. Bonne soirée à tous! (good evening to everybody) like they say in France.

Natalia Korchagina

About the author:
Natalia Korchagina received her BA degree in French and German linguistics from the Volgograd State Pedagogical University (Russia). Now she is a 2nd year Master’s student in the Department of Mathematics and Informatics at Université de Lorraine (Nancy, France).  Natalia is graduating from the University in June 2013 and is already open for a new challenge in the NLP field.
LinkedIn - NLPPeople

13 March 2013

Bitext adds Portuguese to its Semantic API public demos

Madrid, Spain, March 12th, 2013 – Bitext, provider of multilingual technology of Text Analytics for the main European languages, has announced the publication of the Portuguese version of the “Bitext API Demo” (http://svc8.bitext.com/api-demo), the demonstration platform of its semantic API. Along with Portuguese, there are already three languages available (English and Spanish are the other two) for testing Bitext API for free. 

Bitext API is available for testing on the following URL: http://svc8.bitext.com/api-demo. The services available in this platform are Entity and Concept Extraction, Sentiment Analysis and Categorization. This API can be tested using some pre-established texts and also interactively (by entering everyone’s own text). It is also possible to test the API programmatically, thanks to its easy integration into third-party systems. 

Antonio Valderrábanos, founder and CEO of Bitext, considers that being able to publicly show Bitext capabilities of semantic analysis in Portuguese is very important: “After English and Spanish, Portuguese is the next Western language with higher presence in Internet, and this presence has increased 1,000% during the last decade. On the other hand, Brazil has become one of the most dynamic countries from an economic point of view. For Bitext, it is very important to be able to offer our experience and our semantic services to the Portuguese-speaking community. 

The Portuguese version of Bitext API analyzes both European and Brazilian Portuguese. Other languages in which Bitext already offers its semantic services (such as French, Italian, German and Dutch, among others) will soon be available in the demo. 

About Bitext 

Bitext is a leading provider of multilingual Text Analytics technology for major European languages. We develop natural language processing services for software vendors so they can easily integrate semantic capabilities (Sentiment Analysis, Concept and Entity Extraction…) in their products. Our key differentiator: Deep Linguistic Analysis, which gives high levels of accuracy using a proprietary rule-based system that covers all aspects of language processing technology (morphology, syntax, semantics). Contact: info@bitext.com