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Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary field dealing with the statistical and/or rule-based modeling of natural language from a computational perspective. Italian Father Roberto Busa is considered the pioneer in computational linguistics for his usage of computers for linguistic and literary analysis.
Traditionally, computational linguistics was usually performed by computer scientists who had specialized in the application of computers to the processing of a natural language. Computational linguists often work as members of interdisciplinary teams, including linguists (specifically trained in linguistics), language experts (persons with some level of ability in the languages relevant to a given project), and computer scientists. In general, computational linguistics draws upon the involvement of linguists, computer scientists, experts in artificial intelligence, mathematicians, logicians, philosophers, cognitive scientists, cognitive psychologists, psycholinguists, anthropologists and neuroscientists, among others.
Computational linguistics has applied and theoretical components, where theoretical computational linguistics takes up issues in theoretical linguistics and cognitive science and applied computational linguistics focuses on the practical outcome of modelling human language use.
Computational linguistics as a field predates artificial intelligence, a field under which it is often grouped. Computational linguistics originated with efforts in the United States in the 1950s to use computers to automatically translate texts from foreign languages, particularly Russian scientific journals, into English. Since computers can make arithmetic calculations much faster and more accurately than humans, it was thought to be only a short matter of time before the technical details could be taken care of that would allow them the same remarkable capacity to process language.
When machine translation (also known as mechanical translation) failed to yield accurate translations right away, automated processing of human languages was recognized as far more complex than had originally been assumed. Computational linguistics was born as the name of the new field of study devoted to developing algorithms and software for intelligently processing language data. When artificial intelligence came into existence in the 1960s, the field of computational linguistics became that sub-division of artificial intelligence dealing with human-level comprehension and production of natural languages.
In order to translate one language into another, it was observed that one had to understand the grammar of both languages, including both morphology (the grammar of word forms) and syntax (the grammar of sentence structure). In order to understand syntax, one had to also understand the semantics and the lexicon (or 'vocabulary'), and even to understand something of the pragmatics of language use. Thus, what started as an effort to translate between languages evolved into an entire discipline devoted to understanding how to represent and process natural languages using computers.
Computational linguistics can be divided into major areas depending upon the medium of the language being processed, whether spoken or textual; and upon the task being performed, whether analyzing language (recognition) or synthesizing language (generation).
Speech recognition and speech synthesis deal with how spoken language can be understood or created using computers. Parsing and generation are sub-divisions of computational linguistics dealing respectively with taking language apart and putting it together. Machine translation remains the sub-division of computational linguistics dealing with having computers translate between languages.
Some of the areas of research that are studied by computational linguistics include:
- Computational complexity of natural language, largely modeled on automata theory, with the application of context-sensitive grammar and linearly-bounded Turing machines.
- Computational semantics comprises defining suitable logics for linguistic meaning representation, automatically constructing them and reasoning with them
- Computer-aided corpus linguistics
- Design of parsers or chunkers for natural languages
- Design of taggers like POS-taggers (part-of-speech taggers)
- Machine translation as one of the earliest and most difficult applications of computational linguistics draws on many subfields.
The Association for Computational Linguistics defines computational linguistics as:
- ...the scientific study of language from a computational perspective. Computational linguists are interested in providing computational models of various kinds of linguistic phenomena.
- Human speechome project
- Internet linguistics
- National Centre for Text Mining
- Natural language processing
- North American Computational Linguistics Olympiad
- Quantitative linguistics
- Semantic relatedness
- Systemic functional linguistics
- Ubiquitous Knowledge Processing Lab
- ^ "Pioneering the computational linguistics and the largest published work of all time". IBM. http://www.ibm.com/ibm100/it/en/stories/linguistica_computazionale.html. Retrieved 2011-08-11.
- ^ Hans Uszkoreit. What Is Computational Linguistics?  Department of Computational Linguistics and Phonetics of Saarland University
- ^ John Hutchins: Retrospect and prospect in computer-based translation. Proceedings of MT Summit VII, 1999, pp. 30–44.
- ^ Arnold B. Barach: Translating Machine 1975: And the Changes To Come.
- ^ Computational linguistics and phonetics at Saarland University
- ^ Yatsko's computational linguistics laboratory
- ^ The Association for Computational Linguistics What is Computational Linguistics? Published online, Feb, 2005.
- Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
- CICLing annual conferences on Computational Linguistics
- Computational Linguistics – Applications workshop
- Free online introductory book on Computational Linguistics (Internet Archive copy)
- Language Technology World
- Resources for Text, Speech and Language Processing
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