Theoretical Issues in Natural Language Processing

Theoretical Issues in Natural Language Processing

Theoretical Issues in Natural Language Processing

Theoretical Issues in Natural Language Processing


Accompanying continued industrial production and sales of artificial intelligence and expert systems is the risk that difficult and resistant theoretical problems and issues will be ignored. The participants at the Third Tinlap Workshop, whose contributions are contained in Theoretical Issues in Natural Language Processing, remove that risk. They discuss and promote theoretical research on natural language processing, examinations of solutions to current problems, development of new theories, and representations of published literature on the subject. Discussions among these theoreticians in artificial intelligence, logic, psychology, philosophy, and linguistics draw a comprehensive, up-to-date picture of the natural language processing field.


Yorick Wilks

Natural Language Processing is now an industrial process and product as well as a form of theoretical enquiry. Indeed, with the industrial growth of Artificial Intelligence and Expert Systems there is now a danger of difficult and resistant theoretical problems being ignored or pushed aside while products generated and sold. It is therefore very timely for those in theoretical research in the area of natural language processing and understanding to stand back and survey the partial solutions available to problems in this field, the blind alleys that have been closed off, including some that had been closed for many years but have now been declared reopened, as well as the new theories and representations that have been developed and published since the last such inventory was taken.

This book had its origin in the third of the Tinlap Workshops, held in Las Cruces, New Mexico, in January 1987. the role of these workshops is not to set out and discuss particular applications and implementations of natural language processing systems, but to concentrate on the underlying issues, and to compare solutions and constraints across disciplinary borderlines by drawing into a workshop theoreticians in artificial intelligence, logic, psychology, philosophy and linguistics. the previous Tinlap Workshops were able to crystallize, in the published statements of position from panelists, particular discussions and disputes within the field; and a measure of this is the degree to which those published volumes have continued to sell and to be referenced in the general literature of the field.

The aim of the third Tinlap was again to capture the state of things at the present moment, after a period which had seen a revival of interest in syntactic approaches to analysis; a new and pressing concern with aspects of parallel processing and their role in language understanding; a shift in the aspects of semantics and pragmatics that are of most concern to researchers, as well as an underlying worry that the field has not progressed in the linear fashion that was hoped for at the time of the first workshop in 1975.

The Origins of Tinlap

The first Tinlap was held at mit in 1975 and was designed with the above goals in mind, but it was also to provide a forum free of the conventional tedium of too many presented papers. the third followed that pattern (as . . .

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