NLP – natural language processing; ACL – Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL 2019)
Major trends in NLP: a review of 20 years of ACL research
Janna Lipenkova, July 23, 2019
The 57th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL 2019)
Data: working around the bottlenecks
large data is inherently noisy. \In general, the more “democratic” the production channel, the dirtier the data – which means that more effort has to be spent on its cleaning. For example, data from social media will require a longer cleaning pipeline. Among others, you will need to deal with extravagancies of self-expression like smileys and irregular punctuation, which are normally absent in more formal settings such as scientific papers or legal contracts.
The other major challenge is the labeled data bottleneck
crowd-sourcing and Training Data as a Service (TDaaS). On the other hand, a range of automatic workarounds for the creation of annotated datasets have also been suggested in the machine learning community.
Algorithms: a chain of disruptions in Deep Learning
Neural Networks are the workhorse of Deep Learning (cf. Goldberg and Hirst (2017) for an introduction of the basic architectures in the NLP context). Convolutional Neural Networks have seen an increase in the past years, whereas the popularity of the traditional Recurrent Neural Network (RNN) is dropping. This is due, on the one hand, to the availability of more efficient RNN-based architectures such as LSTM and GRU. On the other hand, a new and pretty disruptive mechanism for sequential processing – attention – has been introduced in the sequence-to-sequence (seq2seq) model by Sutskever et al. (2014).
Consolidating various NLP tasks
the three “global” NLP development curves – syntax, semantics and context awareness
the third curve – the awareness of a larger context – has already become one of the main drivers behind new Deep Learning algorithms.
A note on multilingual research
Think of different languages as different lenses through which we view the same world – they share many properties, a fact that is fully accommodated by modern learning algorithms with their increasing power for abstraction and generalization.
Spurred by the global AI hype, the NLP field is exploding with new approaches and disruptive improvements. There is a shift towards modeling meaning and context dependence, probably the most universal and challenging fact of human language. The generalisation power of modern algorithms allows for efficient scaling across different tasks, languages and datasets, thus significantly speeding up the ROI cycle of NLP developments and allowing for a flexible and efficient integration of NLP into individual business scenarios.