Keynote speakers

Robert Dale (Macquarie University)

"The Commercial NLP Landscape"

Josef van Genabith (DFKI, Saarbruecken)

Veronique Hoste (University College Ghent)

"Monitoring social media for signals of suicidality"

Roberto Navigli (Sapienza University of Rome)

Joakim Nivre (Uppsala University)

"Perspectives on Universal Dependencies"

Summary: Universal Dependencies (UD) is a framework for cross-linguistically consistent treebank annotation that has so far been applied to over 50 languages. A basic design principle of UD is to give priority to grammatical relations between content words, which are more likely to be parallel across languages, and to treat function words essentially as features of content words, functionally similar to but structurally distinct from morphological inflection. This principle has been questioned on the grounds that it gives rise to representations that are suboptimal for dependency parsing, where higher accuracy has often been observed when function words are treated as syntactic heads. In this talk, I will defend this principle from three different perspectives. First, I will show how it allows us to capture linguistic universals, similarities in grammatical constructions across structurally different languages, and thereby gives us a solid basis for contrastive linguistic studies. Second, I will illustrate how it provides a natural interface to semantic interpretation, and thereby serves the needs of downstream language understanding tasks, especially in multilingual settings. Finally, I will review recent work on UD parsing, suggesting that the suboptimal nature of the representations has been greatly exaggerated.

Biography: Joakim Nivre is Professor of Computational Linguistics at Uppsala University. He holds a Ph.D. in General Linguistics from the University of Gothenburg and a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Växjö University. His research focuses on data-driven methods for natural language processing, in particular for syntactic and semantic analysis. He is one of the main developers of the transition-based approach to syntactic dependency parsing, described in his 2006 book Inductive Dependency Parsing and implemented in the widely used MaltParser system, and one of the founders of the Universal Dependencies project, which aims to develop cross-linguistically consistent treebank annotation for many languages and currently involves over 100 researchers around the world. He has produced over 200 scientific publications and has more than 10,000 citations according to Google Scholar (May, 2017). He is currently the president of the Association for Computational Linguistics.