Computational linguistics

Computational linguistics

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[1].

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.[2]



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.[3] 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.[4]

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.[citation needed]

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.[citation needed]

Nowadays research within the scope of computational linguistics is done at Computational Linguistics Departments [5] and laboratories.[6]


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:

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.[7]

See also

Translation memory

  • Ubiquitous Knowledge Processing Lab


  1. ^ "Pioneering the computational linguistics and the largest published work of all time". IBM. Retrieved 2011-08-11. 
  2. ^ Hans Uszkoreit. What Is Computational Linguistics? [1] Department of Computational Linguistics and Phonetics of Saarland University
  3. ^ John Hutchins: Retrospect and prospect in computer-based translation. Proceedings of MT Summit VII, 1999, pp. 30–44.
  4. ^ Arnold B. Barach: Translating Machine 1975: And the Changes To Come.
  5. ^ Computational linguistics and phonetics at Saarland University
  6. ^ Yatsko's computational linguistics laboratory
  7. ^ The Association for Computational Linguistics What is Computational Linguistics? Published online, Feb, 2005.

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • computational linguistics — the study of the applications of computers in processing and analyzing language, as in automatic machine translation and text analysis. [1960 65] * * *       language analysis that makes use of electronic digital computers. Computational analysis …   Universalium

  • computational linguistics — noun the use of computers for linguistic research and applications • Hypernyms: ↑linguistics • Hyponyms: ↑machine translation, ↑MT * * * compuˌtational linˈguistics 7 [computational linguistics] …   Useful english dictionary

  • computational linguistics — noun An interdisciplinary field dealing with the statistical and/or rule based modeling of natural language from a computational perspective. This modeling is not limited to any particular field of linguistics …   Wiktionary

  • computational linguistics — /kɒmpjuˌteɪʃənəl lɪŋˈgwɪstɪks/ (say kompyooh.tayshuhnuhl ling gwistiks) noun 1. the application of computational procedures to the study of languages, especially formal languages. 2. the study of the machine translation of languages …   Australian English dictionary

  • computational linguistics (CL) — Use of digital computers in linguistics research. The simplest examples are the use of computers to scan text and produce such aids as word lists, frequency counts, and concordances. From the mid 1950s to the mid 1960s progress was made by… …   Universalium

  • computational linguistics — plural noun [treated as sing.] the branch of linguistics in which the techniques of computer science are applied to the analysis and synthesis of language and speech …   English new terms dictionary

  • computational linguistics — UK / US noun [uncountable] linguistics the study of language using computers …   English dictionary

  • Computational linguistics — …   Википедия

  • Computational Linguistics (journal) — Computational Linguistics   …   Wikipedia

  • Association for Computational Linguistics — Infobox Non profit Non profit name = Association for Computational Linguistics Non profit Non profit type = professional organization founded date = 1962 founder = location = origins = Association for Machine Translation and Computational… …   Wikipedia

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