Our Mission

"What is NLP? What does UKP Lab do? Why should I participate?" you might ask while stumbling across these pages for the first time.

We will try to answer this briefly.

What is NLP?

Let's ask Wikipedia. It says:

Natural language processing (NLP) is a field of computer science, artificial intelligence (also called machine learning),[1] and linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages. Specifically, it is the process of a computer extracting meaningful information from natural language input and/or producing natural language output.[2] In theory, natural language processing is a very attractive method of human–computer interaction. Natural language understanding is sometimes referred to as an AI-complete problem because it seems to require extensive knowledge about the outside world and the ability to manipulate it.

Whether NLP is distinct from, or identical to, the field of computational linguistics is a matter of perspective. The Association for Computational Linguistics defines the latter as focusing on the theoretical aspects of NLP. On the other hand, the open-access journal "Computational Linguistics", styles itself as "the longest running publication devoted exclusively to the design and analysis of natural language processing systems" (Computational Linguistics (Journal))

Modern NLP algorithms are grounded in machine learning, especially statistical machine learning. Research into modern statistical NLP algorithms requires an understanding of a number of disparate fields, including linguistics, computer science, and statistics. For a discussion of the types of algorithms currently used in NLP, see the article on pattern recognition.

Alright, so far, so good, but

What does UKP lab do?

UKP Lab carries out projects in the areas of Natural Language Processing, Information Retrieval, Text Mining, eLearning, and Digital Humanities. The group’s research aim is to develop new approaches to automatically process and manage the knowledge represented in a variety of forms and repositories, with a strong focus on textual information processing and large-scale content analysis.

UKP Lab uses and develops algorithms to solve problems related to answering information needs, finding and summarizing relevant information, mining structured information from unstructured documents and employing this information to improve the quality of (for example) learning processes.

With DKPro, the UKP Lab offers open-source implementations for many powerful state-of-the-art NLP algorithms and processing tasks. Those are freely available for educational purposes and other research groups to benefit from.

UKP staff regularly participate in top international conferences in Natural Language Processing, Semantic Information Management, and Educational Applications thereof. The Lab maintains close research cooperation with companies such as SAP Research, Siemens, CAS Software, Intelligent Views and others. It is also part of the LOEWE Research Center for Digital Humanities.

For an overview of our research areas see here.

Last but not least,

Why should I participate?

NLP is ubiquitous. By today, modern information society is already highly characterized by computational linguistics. For example, think about

  • the Semantic Web
  • speech based handling of mobile devices (navigation systems, smartphones)
  • machine translation for overcoming language barriers
  • automatic opinion analysis by crowdsourcing
  • information extraction and search in digital libraries and the web

NLP is a pulsating discipline. Technological advance has been moving fast during the last decade. However, there are many areas where the results of the approaches applied can be improved (such as in machine translation). In addition to this, there are steadily new fields emerging where NLP techniques might be called into action.

NLP is interdisciplinary. Besides computer science and linguistics, NLP is related to a variety of other disciplines. Most obvious might be logic and Artificial Intelligence, but - depending on the application area of NLP - many more disciplines are involved, such as sociology, psychology, educational research, or economics.

UKP Lab offers ideal study conditions. Besides modern infrastructure, a huge student lab, and constantly high rated courses, we offer individual supervision of our students and integration into the research projects of UKP Lab from the very beginning.

Did we arouse your interest? If so, have a look at our teaching page.

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