BEIJING, July 10 (Xinhua) -- "Hi, Siri." It's the start of a familiar smartphone conversation. Along with customer service chatbots, autonomous spell check and machine translation, it is backed by natural language processing, or NLP.
A leading international conference on NLP research, the 58th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL 2020), held online this year due to the COVID-19 epidemic, wrapped up on Friday.
Aminer, an academic information service platform developed by China's Tsinghua University, analyzed research papers submitted and accepted at the conference, providing an opportunity to review major research trends in NLP and its development in China.
NLP deals with how computers understand and generate language. Its rise is backed by the development of the artificial intelligence (AI) and large quantity of text data. NLP is a highly complex, interdisciplinary field supported by fundamental research in linguistics, math and computer science.
Researchers from 57 countries and regions around the world submitted 3,429 papers to the meeting this year and 779 were accepted.
According to Aminer, NLP machine learning, dialogue and interaction technology, machine translation, information extraction and NLP application are the five most common NLP research areas.
At ACL 2019, a team including researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, WeChat AI and Huawei Noah's Ark Lab won the Best Long Paper for their study on machine translation.
This year, Chinese researchers submitted 1,170 research papers to the meeting, with 205 accepted.
Papers from Chinese researchers covered topics like the application of NLP in the legal system, how to use NLP to facilitate communication between experts and laymen, and machine reading comprehension.
Liu Zhiyuan, an associate professor at an NLP lab with Tsinghua University, said NLP is a key AI research area as it reframes how humans interact with machines, and the ultimate goal of AI is to make computers and devices listen, speak and understand language, think and solve problems, and even create new things.
He said China holds great potential in NLP research due to its market demand and talent pool while more efforts are needed in original ideas and research.
Zong Chengqing, of the Institute of Automation under Chinese Academy of Sciences, will be president of ACL 2021, which is scheduled to be held in Bangkok, Thailand, in August next year. Enditem