EACL Newsletter

Issue 7

September 2005


Table of Contents
  1. Editorial
  2. EACL Sponsorship
  3. The Student Board
  4. Report on ACL'05
  5. Report on ISCOL'05
  6. Report on EUROLAN'05
  7. PASCAL workshop
  8. SIG in semitic languages
  9. North-baltic association of language technology
  10. EACL policy on support for educational programmes
  11. Integrated European Masters Programme in Language and Communication Technologies
  12. Calendar of Events

EDITORIAL

Welcome to the Autumn edition of the EACL newsletter. EACL is busy preparing for the meeting in Trento in 2006. On that score, students should read this edition's article on EACL sponsorship---it may be to your financial advantage! The article also describes the kinds of things we have sponsored, what we would like to sponsor, and how to apply for money.

EACL has two new members on the student board, and Sebastian Pado continues on the board for another year. With all these changes, we have taken this newsletter as an opportunity to introduce all three of them to you.

As always, this year's conference season was extremely busy; indeed, looking at the list of events in the calendar at the end of this newsletter (thanks to Sebastian Pado for providing this), the conference season is far from over! Please read Chris Callison-Burch's article describing his personal views of ACL 2005, Shuly Wintner's report on ISCOL 2005, a report on the summer school EUROLAN 2005, written by the organizing committee, and a report on the most recent PASCAL workshop written Ido Dagan; this also gives details of the future NLP challenges to be addressed by PASCAL.

The computational linguistics community in Europe is currently in an extremely vibrant state, with the launch of several new orgnanisations, research groups and pan-European education programmes. Some of the new initiatives are described here. Shuly has kindly supplied the newsletter with information about the (relatively) new SIG in Semitic Languages. Everyone is encouraged to get involved in this exciting new area of computational linguistics! Plans are also now underway to form a new organisation called the Nordic-Baltic Assocation of Language Technology. Find out about it in Kimmo Koskenniemi's article. On the education front, we have a new integrated European masters programme in language and communication (LCT), and Mike Rosner and Valia Kordoni give details here. I have also included an announcement of the EACL policy for supporting educational programmes in Europe; a policy on which we settled at the EACL executive committee meeting that took place in June.

I hope you enjoy this edition of the newsletter. I am extremely grateful to everyone that has contributed to this issue. And I look forward to seeing you in Trento in April.

Alex Lascarides
Editor


A Reminder About EACL Sponsorships

Anette Frank and Mike Rosner
Secretary and Treasurer


THE STUDENT BOARD

EACL's student board now consists of Sebastian Pado, Violeta Seretan and Jonathon Read:

SEBASTIAN PADO

I am a PhD student at Saarland University in Saarbruecken, Germany, and involved in the SALSA project, the goal of which is to annotate and analyse German corpora with role-semantic information. The topic of my thesis is cross-lingual projection of semantic information, with the view of re-using role-semantic resources existing for English (e.g. FrameNet) for other languages.

Before embarking on my PhD, I received an M.Sc. in Cognitive Science and Natural Language from Edinburgh University for a thesis on dependency-based semantic space models.

VIOLETTA SERETAN

I am a Ph.D. student in Computational Linguistics at the Language Technology Laboratory (LATL), University of Geneva (Switzerland). At LATL, I have been involved in a project of multilingual lexical acquisition, and I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. under the supervision of Eric Wehrli. My research focuses on a subclass of multi-word expressions particularly important in text production applications: collocations. Since linguistic information is seen as a useful complement to statistical methods in the computational treatment of collocations, I am using state-of-the-art natural language technology for collocation processing, with the final goal of compiling linguistically-rich collocation resources for translation and generation. I am also a Teaching Assistant in NLP and Databases undergraduate courses.

Before LATL, I earned a M.Sc. in Computer Science at the University of Iasi (Romania) with a thesis on the relation between discourse structure and anaphora supervised by Dan Cristea.

JONATHON READ:

I have completed one year of a doctoral programme in the Natural Language and Computational Linguistics research group, supervised by John Carroll, at the University of Sussex. My research will investigate both supervised and unsupervised methods for classifying documents according to authors' general sentiment, be it positive, negative or neutral. Automatic analysis of sentiment-bearing language is an important milestone in the development of affective computing -- technology that recognises and responds to the emotional state of its users. My homepage is at: http://www.sussex.ac.uk/Users/jlr24


REPORT ON ACL 2005

This year's ACL had a huge attendance. There were over 700 registered participants (a new record), and included significantly increased student participation. The whole of the conference ran with multiple concurrent sessions with the exception of three plenary sessions, which were the invited talks by Justine Cassell and Michael Jordan, and the presentation of the lifetime achievement award to Martin Kay. Martin's acceptance speech was notable not only because it was genuinely charming and humorous, but also because he made an important distinction between "computational linguistics" (the use of computers to investigate and further linguistic theory) and "natural language processing" (engineering advancements for text processing applications), and hinted that we had strayed too far from our computational linguistic roots. On the whole, I think that the conference could have benefitted from an increased number of plenary sessions to bring everyone together. As it was, I managed to attend machine translation talks almost to the exclusion of other topics. There were some excellent talks in the MT sessions, including David Chiang's presentation on his advancements to phrase-based models of MT (for which he won the best paper award), and Franz Och's invited presentation at the MT workshop where he made the memorable analogies of machine translation being like going to the moon, and Google being like NASA. All in all it was a great conference with excellent organization at the site, and with enough substance for many more days than it spanned.

Chris Callison-Burch


ISCOL 2005

ISCOL-2005, the Israeli Seminar on Computational Linguistics, took place on June 22, 2005 at the Technion, Haifa. This year's meeting was held in conjunction with the 21st annual meeting of the Israel Association for Theoretical Linguistics. It featured an invited talk by Khalil Sima'an (ILLC, Amsterdam University), a special session on morphological analysis and disambiguation of Semitic languages, six contributed presentations and a panel on "cooperation between theoretical and computational linguists in research and technology". More than 60 participants attended. See more details at: http:// www.cs.technion.ac.il/~bagilad/iscol/

Shuly Wintner


EUROLAN 2005

The Seventh biennial EUROLAN International Summer School (http://www.cs.ubbcluj.ro/eurolan2005/) was held in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, from July 25 to August 5, 2005. This year's edition was masterminded by the two traditional organizers, the Faculty of Computer Science at Cuza University and the Research Institute for Artificial Intelligence at the Romanian Academy in Bucharest, this time working in a close cooperation also with the University Babe-Bolyai of Cluj-Napoca, which also hosted the event. The school was among the most successful in its 12-years history, with 75 registered participants from 13 countries.

It is in the tradition of the EUROLAN summer schools to orientate its themes around topics which have gained a lot of recent attention within the research community. This summer school provided two weeks of intensive study focussing on multilingual processing, and in particular applications involving multilingual access to the web. International known scholars served as professors and trainers at the school, giving seminars and hands-on labs. These included Branimir Boguraev, Alexandru Ceausu, Dan Cristea, Hamish Cunningham, Dieter Fensel, Nancy Ide, Radu Ion, Martin Kay, Bernardo Magnini, Daniel Marcu, Rada Mihalcea, Ruslan Mitkov, Vivi Nastase, Nicolas Nicolov, Constantin Orasan, Marius Pasca, Ted Pederson, Emanuele Pianta, Oana Postolache, Georgiana Puscasu, Dumitru Roman, Dan Stefanescu, Valentin Tablan, Ioan Toma, Dan Tufis, Cristi Ursu. There were also several workshops and a poster session. The dense scientific program was offset with a number of social events, including a city tour and excursion to transilvania, among others.

The organisers gratefully acknowledge the sponsorship of: Knowledge Web Network of Excellence, IJCAI, Siemens Program and System Engineering Romania, Vassar College, Technord Belgium, Google Inc., Language Weaver, Microsoft Romania, Siemens VDO Romania, the Romanian Ministry of Education and Research, DERI Austria, University of Sheffield, the Romanian Bank of Development and the Italo-Romanian Bank.

Corina Forascu
Dan Cristea
Dan Tufis


PASCAL Workshop and Challenges

The first PASCAL Challenges Workshop, of the PASCAL Network of Excellence on Pattern Analysis, Statistical Modeling and Computational Learning, was held in Southampton, England, April 11-13. This event addressed four PASCAL challenges, including two within the CL/NLP area:

The textual entailment challenge provided the first benchmark for this recently proposed empirical task. The challenge was met with a significant response, attracting 17 submissions worldwide, about half of them from Europe. 13 groups presented their work in a one day workshop. The works demonstrated a wide range of approaches at the lexical, syntactic, semantic and logical levels, involving various empirical techniques. Short system reports were published in the workshop proceedings (available from http://www.pascal-network.org/Challenges/RTE/), while longer version papers will be published in a Springer Lecture Notes in the AI collection. A second round of the challenge is planned for the coming year (see below), and the release of the development set for this is expected during October, with the release of the test set in January.

The half day Information Extraction workshop included presentations from six participating groups. The challenge included several tasks that addressed alternative supervision modes and knowledge sources to extract information fields from conference announcements. Participating systems explored issues such as selective sampling, feature selection and utilizing various machine learning techniques.

Two additional PASCAL challenges in the NLP area are the Evaluating Ontology Learning and Population Challenge, and the new Letter-to-Sound Conversion Challenge. The next PASCAL Challenges Workshop will be held in Venice, April 10-12, 2006.

See http://www.pascal-network.org/Challenges/RTE/ for more information.

Ido Dagan


SIG IN SEMITIC LANGUAGES

On May 15, 2005, the ACL Executive Committee approved a proposal to form a Special Interest Group (SIG) on Computational Approaches to Semitic Languages. The SIG was inaugurated during the ACL-2005 Workshop on Computational Approaches to Semitic Languages, held in Ann Arbor, MI on June 29th, 2005.

The purpose of the SIG is to bring together researchers and practitioners who are interested in computational approaches to Semitic languages, emphasizing the common challenges and solutions rather than the distinctive features of this family of languages. The SIG will encourage exchange of ideas, sharing of resources, promotion of interest in computational approaches to Semitic languages and organization of conferences and workshops dedicated to this area, guaranteeing at least one biennial meeting.

Membership in the SIG is open for all and free. Elections for SIG officers are currently underway. We are seeking nominations for the offices of Chair, Secretary and Information Officers. See http://www.semitic.tk/ for more details.

Shuly Wintner


ESTABLISHING THE NORDIC-BALTIC ASSOCATION OF LANGUAGE TECHNOLOGY

There has been a long-standing and intensive cooperation in language technology among Nordic countries for decades: bi-annual NODALIDA conferences since 1970s, researcher courses since 1992, a NODALI mailing list, a Nordic research program 2000-2005, a Nordic Graduate School of Language Technology (NGSLT) 2004-2008, and so on. In addition, there has been much discussion over recent years to establish a formal association for the region. In May 2005, at the NODALIDA 2005 conference in Joensuu Finland, we unanimously decided to go ahead and found such an association.

A small preparatory working group consisting of Kimmo Koskenniemi (Helsinki), Joakim Nivre (Vxj, Sweden) and Janne Bondi Johannessen (Oslo) was nominated to prepare a constitution for the association, and specifically study how the new association should relate itself to existing organizations such as ACL and EACL.

An association for the Nordic-Baltic area was considered useful as it would provide continuity with the four-year Nordic Languge Technology Program, which ended in 2004. An association would be a useful framework for a number of activities, such as running an electronic journal, collecting the history of Nordic language technology, advancing various initiatives, and supporting existing activities such as the NODALIDA conference meetings.

Kimmo Koskenniemi


EACL POLICY ON SUPPORT FOR EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMMES

EACL, as an official organization representing computational linguistics (CL) in Europe, encourages the general development of educational programs for CL that promote the field and encourage its diffusion throughout Europe. In particular, EACL encourages programmes that operate at a multi-national level, such as exchange support programs for students and faculty.

However, EACL does not have the capacity to evaluate any specific CL educational programme, and thus cannot provide official approval or accreditation for such programmes. Accordingly, general support for specific programmes can only be granted in such a way that it cannot be used in a competitive way relative to other comparable activities.

The above policy will be manifest at the EACL web site, which will aim to display links to all multinational European CL educational programs. A link to this list will be included in letters of support for specific requests, stating explicitly the scope of the EACL support policy. In addition, we will keep links to national and institutional CL programs in a separate space.

We solicit submission of website links to all European educational programs in CL, at the multi-national, national and institutional levels. Links should be sent by email to: webmaster@eacl.org

Ido Dagan


INTEGRATED EUROPEAN MASTERS PROGRAMME IN LANGUAGE AND COMMUNICATION TECHNOLOGIES (LCT)

A consortium of 10 European Universities (Saarbruecken, Bolzano, Prague, Malta, Copenhagen Business School, Roskilde, Utrecht, Amsterdam, Nancy 1 and Nancy 2) have been preparing an integrated European Masters programme in Language Communication and Technologies (LCT). A common curriculum has been agreed which follows the Bologna model for higher education in Europe and comprises 120 ECTS credits, 30 of which make up the Masters dissertation, and 90 of which are coursework credits made up of compulsory modules in Computer Science (28 ECTS) and Language Technology (28 ECTS), and advanced modules (34 ECTS) in these and related areas. The exact implementation of modules is left up to the individual Universities, allowing for limited variation exploiting the special strengths of each institution. Coursework is distributed over three semesters, while the dissertation is completed in the fourth semester. Students will get the chance to attend the two-year programme at two universities chosen from the consortium, spending about half the time at each. Those completing the course will obtain a legally valid Masters degree from each of the two institutions attended.

Funding for the course has been applied for under the EU Erasmus Mundus programme which aims to enhance quality in European higher education and to promote intercultural understanding through co-operation with non-EU countries.

Further details:
PD Dr. Valia Kordoni,
Dept. of Computational Linguistics,
Saarland University,
kordoni@coli.uni-sb.de
http://www.coli.uni-saarland.de/msc/lct/

Mike Rosner
Valia Kordoni


Calendar

Europe

September 24, 2005, Borovets, BulgariaCrossing Barriers in Text Summarization Research(at RANLP)
September 25, 2005, Borovets, Bulgaria Language and Speech Infrastructure for Information Access in the Balkan Countries (at RANLP)
September 28, 2005, Madrid, Spain ECCB'05 Workshop on Biomedical Ontologies and Text Processing
October 3-7, 2005, Porto, PortugalECML/PKDD05 16th European Conference on Machine Learning/9th European Conference on Principles and Practice of Knowledge Discovery in Databases
October 2-5, 2005, Sitges, Spain ICLP 2005 Twenty First International Conference on Logic Programming
October 5, 2005, Sitges, Spain CSLP 2005 2nd International Workshop on Constraint Solving and Language Processing
October 17-19, 2005, Patras, Greece SPECOM 2005 10th International Conference on Speech and Computer
October 27-28, 2005, Bolzano, ItalyLesser Used Languages & Computer Linguistics
October 31-November 4, 2005, Agia Napa, CyprusCoopIS 2005 Cooperative Information Systems
October 31-November 4, 2005, Agia Napa, CyprusDOA'05International Symposium on Distributed Objects and Applications
October 31-November 4, 2005, Agia Napa, CyprusODBASE 4th International Conference on Ontologies, Databases, and Applications of Semantics
November 10-12, 2005, Bratislava, SlovakiaThird International Seminar Computer Treatment of Slavic and East European Languages
December 5-8, 2005, Covilha, Portugal EPIA '05 12th Portuguese Conference on Artificial Intelligence
December 5, 2005, Covilha, PortugalTEMA-2005 Workshop on Text Mining and Applications
December 9-10, 2005, Barcelona, Spain TLT 2005 Fourth Workshop on Treebanks and Linguistic Theories
April 3-7, 2006, Trento, Italy EACL06
May 24-26, 2006, Genova, Italy LREC 2006 5th Conference on Language Resources and Evaluation
July 31-August 11, 2006, Malaga, Spain ESSLLI 200618th European Summer School for Logic, Language and Information

World

October 6-8, 2005, Vancouver, B.C., CanadaHLT/EMNLP 2005
October 8-11, 2005, Singapore, Singapore ALT2005 16th International Conference on Algorithmic Learning Theory
October 9-10, 2005, Vancouver, BC, CanadaDUC 2005 Document Understanding Conference
October 9-10, 2005, Vancouver, BC, CanadaIWPT 2005 9th International Workshop on Parsing Technologies
October 11-13, 2005, Jeju Island, KoreaJCNLP05 Second International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing
October 14, 2005, Jeju Island, Korea IWP2005 3rd International Workshop on Paraphrasing
October 14-15, 2005, Jeju Island, Korea SIGHAN2005 Fourth SIGHAN Workshop on Chinese Language Processing
October 15, 2005, Jeju Island, KoreaLINC-2005 6th International Workshop on Linguistically Interpreted Corpora
October 15, 2005, Jeju Island, KoreaOntolex 2005 - Ontologies and Lexical Resources
October 24-25, 2005, Pittsburgh, PA, USAInternational Workshop on Spoken Language Translation 2005
November 27-December 1, 2005, Cancun, MexicoASRU2005 Automatic Speech Recognition and Understanding Workshop
December 9-10, 2005, Whistler, B.C., Canada Bayesian Methods for Natural Language Processing Workshop at NIPS 2005
December 10-11, Sydney, Australia ALTW2005 2005 Australasian Language Technology Workshop
December 18-20, IIT Kanpur, India ICON-2005 International Conference on Natural Language Processing
December 20-22, 2005, Pune, India2nd Indian International Conference on Artificial Intelligence
January 23-27, 2006, Jeju Island, KoreaGWA06 3rd Global WordNet Meeting
March 27-29, 2006, Stanford, California, USA CAAW-2006 AAAI Spring 2006 Symposium on Computational Approaches to Analysing Weblogs
May 11-13, 2006, Melbourne Beach, Florida, USA Trends in Natural Language Processing Special Track at the 19th International FLAIRS Conference
June 4-9, 2006, New York City HLT-NAACL 2006
July 17-21, 2006, Sydney, Australia ACL-COLING 2006