EACL Newsletter

Issue 14

November 2011

Table of Contents
  1. Editorial
  2. View from the Chair
  3. EACL Board
  4. EACL 2012 in Avignon
  5. Report on ACL 2011
  6. Report on EMNLP 2011
  7. Report on RANLP 2011
  8. Report on IWCS 2011
  9. Report on ESSLLI 2011
  10. Calendar

1. Editorial

Welcome to the EACL newsletter for 2011. The newsletter starts with a message from the chair of EACL, Sien Moens. Walter Daelemans reports on the progress being made for EACL 2012, to be held in Avignon in April, and then we have a series of reports on the various conferences held in Europe in 2011 (plus ACL in Portland).

We have a number of new members on the EACL Board. I am the new Chair-Elect; Alexander Koller, Kemal Oflazer, and Vivi Nastase have joined the Advisory Board; and Konstantina Garoufi and Coskun Mermer have joined the Student Board.

The Student Board has again carefully edited a dense calendar of European and international events of interest that will soon take place. The document is available via the EACL home page.

Stephen Clark

2. View from the Chair

Welcome to this new edition of the Newsletter of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics. These are exciting years for the European community of computational linguists. There are three conferences ahead of us, the 13th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics to be held in Avignon, France on April 23-27, 2012; the 51st Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics to be located in Sofia, Bulgaria in the summer of 2013; and the 14th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics planned for the Spring of 2014 at a European or Middle East location still to be decided. We are sure that these three conferences will bring the varied and extensive European research in the spotlights stirring up the interests of young bright researchers for the CL field. We hope that the conferences make our national and European policy makers and university leaders aware of the necessity to increase the research funding in this area and to revise and adapt educational programs to this growing research field. Research in computational linguistics has exhibited extraordinary advances the last decade, but still many of the CL goals are distant dreams.

We are very happy to announce in this newsletter all the inspiring happenings that have shaped computational linguistics in Europe the last year. We proudly announce that the initiative initiated by my predecessor Giorgio Satta to revive the relationships with the regional CL organizations in Europe, is continued. Again this year we will publish an additional issue of the EACL newsletter that will be entirely devoted to the conference and meetings of these regional associations. As usual in this newsletter you read about the larger CL events that show that CL is vibrantly alive and very active. Enjoy.

Sien Moens
EACL Chair

3. EACL Board

The current EACL board is composed as follows:

Chair: Chair elect: Treasurer: Secretary: Advisory Board: Student board:

4. EACL 2012 in Avignon, France

The preparation of EACL 2012 (http://www.eacl2012.org) in Avignon is shaping up nicely. The program chairs Mirella Lapata and Lluis Marquez guarantee an excellent programme. Three distinguished researchers have accepted an invitation to present a keynote lecture: Regina Barzilay (MIT), Martin Cooke (Ikerbasque), and Raymond Mooney (University of Texas). Some of the calls are still open (call for papers, workshops, system demonstrations, students research papers, ...), so check the website for deadlines. The deadline for papers is November 4. The program chairs invite submission of papers on original and unpublished research in all areas of computational linguistics, broadly conceived to include disciplines such as psycholinguistics, speech, information retrieval, multimodal language processing, and language issues in emerging domains such as bioinformatics and social media. The local organization committee, chaired by Marc El-Beze, is working hard to make the Avignon EACL a memorable conference. The conference will take place at Sainte Marthe University Campus in a historical environment, dating back as far as 1303. The city of Avignon is well known for its ramparts, its famous Pont Saint-Benezet and the Palais des Papes, next to which the conference dinner will be organized in rooms with a breathtaking view of the Rhone river. The city is easy to reach by TGV train, plane or car. We hope to welcome you to the only computational linguistics conference in Europe next year!

Walter Daelemans
General Chair for EACL 2012

5. Report on ACL 2011

The 49th Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics took place in Portland, Oregon, June 19-24, 2011. The General Chair was Dekang Lin, and Program Co-chairs were Yuji Matsumoto and Rada Mihalcea. The local arrangements were taken care of by a team led by Brian Roark.

As in previous years, the conference started with a full day of tutorials. This year, the tutorial session was chaired by Patrick Pantel and Andy Way, who worked together with a small number of reviewers to select the six final set of tutorials out of the 18 submitted.

For the main program, ACL 2011 received a total of 1,146 papers, out of which 634 were submitted as long papers and 512 were submitted as short papers. 25.9% of the long paper submissions and 25.0% of the short paper submissions were accepted for presentation at the conference. 116 of the long papers and 56 of the short papers had an oral presentation, and 48 of the long papers and 72 of the short papers were presented as posters. The papers were selected by a program committee of 27 area chairs, from Asia, Europe, and North America, assisted by a panel of 648 reviewers.

To achieve the goal of a broad technical program, following an initiative from last year, papers under four different categories were solicited: "theoretical computational linguistics," "empirical/data-driven approaches," "resources/evaluation," and "applications/tools." Other types of papers (e.g., surveys or challenge papers) were also accepted, although unlike the previous year, no separate category was created for these papers.

A new initiative this year was to also accept papers accompanied by supplemental materials (software and/or data) described in the paper. In addition to the regular review of the research quality of the paper, the accompanied resources were also reviewed for their quality. Papers that were submitted with accompanying software/data received additional credit toward the overall evaluation score, and acceptance or rejection decision was made based on the quality of both the research and the software/data components. Among all the submissions, a total of 84 papers were accompanied by a software package and 117 papers were accompanied by a dataset. Among all the accepted papers, 30 papers are accompanied by software and 35 papers are accompanied by a dataset. These materials are hosted on the ACL web site, and are included in the proceedings together with the corresponding paper.

The main program consisted of five parallel sessions for oral presentations, and one poster session during the evening of the second day of the conference. Long and short papers were distributed among both the oral and poster sessions. Based on the recommendation received from the student session co-chairs (Miles Osborne and Thamar Solorio), it was decided that all the student session papers were also presented during the poster session. In addition to the regular presentations, demos were also presented during the second day of the conference. The demo session was chaired by Sadao Kurohashi, who worked together with a group of reviewers to accept 24 demo papers out of the 46 submitted.

The conference also offered a mentoring service, which was chaired by Tim Baldwin. An enormous amount of work has also been done by the publications chair, Guodong Zhou, who in addition to putting together the proceedings of the main conference, has also helped and advised all the workshop chairs to compile their proceedings.

There were three awards, presented in a plenary session: one for the best long paper, which went to Dipanjan Das and Slav Petrov for the paper "Unsupervised Part-of-Speech Tagging with Bilingual Graph-Based Projections"; one for the best long paper by a student, given to Jonathan Berant for the paper "Global Learning of Typed Entailment Rules"; and one for the best short paper, awarded to Brian Roark, Richard Sproat and Izhak Shafran for the paper "Lexicographic Semirings for Exact Automata Encoding of Sequence Models." The conference also had two distinguished invited speakers: Dr. David Ferrucci (Principal Investigator, IBM Research), who talked about his team's work on building "Watson" - a deep question answering system that achieved champion-level performance at Jeopardy!, and Lera Boroditsky (Assistant Professor, Stanford University), who gave a presentation on her research on how the languages we speak shape the way we think.

The ACL's Lifetime Achievement Award went to Eugene Charniak, who gave the closing talk of the conference on "The Brain as a Statistical Information Processor."

After the conference, 15 workshops took place over two days, which also included the Conference on Natural Language Learning (CoNLL). The workshops were selected by the workshop co-chairs, John Carroll and Hal Daume III, who worked together with the EMNLP co-chair to make decisions for all the workshops submitted in response to a joint ACL/EMNLP call for workshop proposals.

Overall, ACL 2011 was a great success, and also the "largest ACL ever" -- a testimony that computational linguistics is an exciting field that is steadily growing!

Rada Mihalcea and Yuji Matsumoto
ACL 2011 Program Co-Chairs

6. Report on EMNLP 2011

EMNLP 2011 --- the Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, a conference organised annually by SIGDAT, the Association for Computational Linguistics' special interest group on linguistic data and corpus-based approaches to NLP --- took place this year from July 27th to 29th at the John McIntyre Conference Centre, Edinburgh, UK. This year's EMNLP was, for the first time, not only a stand alone conference, but also an anchor conference to several workshops, that were held on July 30th and July 31st at the Informatics Forum, Edinburgh. This year's conference continued the successful growing trend of previous years, attracting the largest number of papers to date for EMNLP and requiring a large organisational effort. The conference was preceded by a very interesting colocated event sponsored by Google and the Scottish and Informatics Computer Science Alliance: an Intense Summer School on Hadoop and Natural Language Processing.


This was the first time EMNLP had a general chair, Paola Merlo, Geneva, Switzerland. The scientific programme chairs were Regina Barzilay, MIT, US, and Mark Johnson, Macquarie University, Australia. Publication chair was Wanxiang Che, Harbin Institute of Technology, China. Workshop chair was Marie Candito, Paris 7, France. Local arrangements were being organised by Bonnie Webber and Miles Osborne, University of Edinburgh.

The list of 20 area chairs can be found at http://conferences.inf.ed.ac.uk/emnlp2011/area-chairs.html

EMNLP received 628 submissions (not counting papers that were withdrawn or rejected without review). We were able to accept 95 papers as talks and an additional 54 submissions as posters. The reviewing process was a two-round review with author response period.

This year's conference was innovative in several ways. The conference contained three additional plenary sessions compared to previous EMNLP conferences; these were used to highlight a diverse set of papers of interest to the entire EMNLP audience. We hope this will help counter the disciplinary fragmentation that some of us feel the standard multi-track conference structure encourages and were in general appreciated by the participants.

For the first time, submitted papers could be optionally accompanied by up to 10MB of supplementary material, which could consist of data, code, and text. Papers could reference the supplementary material in much the same way a paper might refer to software or a tech report available from the authors' web site (albeit without revealing the authors' identities). Reviewers were encouraged but not required to view the supplementary material. We did include these unreviewed materials in the proceedings. Roughly 20% of the papers took advantage of this option.

A major challenge this year concerned undisclosed double submissions and plagiarism (especially self-plagiarism) involving papers accepted at other international conferences. We believe this is an issue that must be addressed by the broader research community.

The conference attendance largely exceeded the 400 people, and the weather was uncharacteristically dry and sunny.

Paola Merlo
General Chair for EMNLP 2011

7. Report on RANLP 2011

The biennial conference Recent Advances in Natural Language Processing (RANLP) has established itself as one of the most competitive and internationally recognised NLP events. The 8th International Conference RANLP 2011, held from 12 to 14 September 2011 in Hissar, Bulgaria, is the latest one in the series. It was preceded by 6 tutorials, given on 10 and 11 September, and followed by five workshops organised on 15 and 16 September. The RANLP 2011 Student Research Workshop was held on 13 September as part of the main conference programme.

This year 120 regular, short or poster papers were presented at the conference, authored by researchers from 42 countries. The papers cover a variety of topics, among them event and relation extraction, POS tagging, parsing and grammars, summarisation, generation and machine translation, NER, sentiment analysis, text and discourse segmentation, coreference resolution, semantic processing, knowledge acquisition, annotation and resources, dictionaries and terminologies. The selection rate of the regular papers was 17%. The poster sessions included demo presentations as well. The submitted papers were reviewed by a Programme Committee consisting of 68 well-known experts. The very short reviewing turn-around time (3-4 weeks) was possible due to the dedicated support from 88 reviewers, plus the Program Committee. RANLP 2011 published Proceedings, available at the conference site. It will be soon uploaded at the ACL Anthology.

The keynote speakers at RANLP 2011 gave six invited talks:

whereas tutorial speakers and the titles of their tutorials were:

The following workshops were held as accompanying events at RANLP 2011:

All workshops have published proceedings which will be uploaded at the ACL Anthology.

This year RANLP joined the LRE Map Initiative and asked the authors of all submitted papers to fill in a form describing the resources used in their research. About one half of all authors (i.e. for 90 papers) have declared the respective language resources. Some 25 papers present results using newly developed resources; 11 papers discuss methods and tools for updating existing resources.

RANLP 2011 had 180 participants which is a record number in the conference history.

The event was sponsored by Ontotext Bulgaria.

The informal team behind RANLP includes Galia Angelova (Organising Committee Chair), Kalina Bontcheva, Ruslan Mitkov (Programme Committee Chair), Preslav Nakov, and Nikolai Nikolov. Kiril Simov was the workshop coordinator. The Programme Committee Coordinators were Ivelina Nikolova, Irina Temnikova and Natalia Konstantinova.

Galia Angelova, Chair of the Organising Committee
Ruslan Mitkov, Chair of the Programme Committee

8. Report on IWCS 2011

January 12-14, 2011
Oxford, UK

The 9th International Conference on Computational Semantics (the major conference of SIGSEM) was held in Oxford, UK. It took place at the Computing Laboratory at the University of Oxford and its local organisation was in the safe hands of Steve Pulman. This was the first time IWCS was staged outside the Netherlands -- until 2009 all IWCS events were organised by Harry Bunt and took place in Tilburg.

The 2011 edition of IWCS attracted a record number of 110 submissions, of which 50 papers were accepted (30 long, regular papers, and 20 papers that were presented as posters). The programme was complemented by two invited speakers: Harry Bunt (Tilburg University), and Eduard Hovy (Information Sciences Institute).

The IWCS conference covers all areas that relate to computational aspects of meaning of natural language within written, spoken, or multimodal communication. Traditionally, there is both space for formal approaches and more practically oriented work, as well as for computational approaches to lexical semantics and corpus-based research. In the Oxford edition of IWCS it was interesting to see that a lot of current research is directed towards employing statistical methods in computational semantics. In particular, several papers targetted the problem of compositionality in a distributional semantic framework.

The proceedings of IWCS 2011 are available via the online ACL Anthology. An extensive conference report (including pictures) written by Elena Cabrio can be found at the SIGSEM webpage: http://www.sigsem.org/wiki/IWCS-9_Conference_Report

IWCS is organised every two years. The next IWCS is scheduled for 2013, and will take place in Potsdam, Germany.

Johan Bos
University of Groningen
President of ACL SIGSEM

9. Report on ESSLLI 2011

For the past 23 years, the European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information (ESSLLI) has been organized every year under the auspices of the Association for Logic, Language and Information (FoLLI) in different European cities. The main focus of ESSLLI is on the interface between linguistics, logic and computation. ESSLLI offers foundational, introductory and advanced courses, as well as workshops, covering a wide variety of topics within the three areas of interest with a strong interdisciplinary component. The school has developed into one of the most important international annual events in Europe, where dozens of distinguished lecturers and researchers present their courses, organize workshops, and exchange ideas on a wide variety of topics in the areas of logic, language, and computation to highly motivated master and doctoral students and young researchers from Europe and elsewhere.

The 23rd European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information (http://esslli2011.ijs.si/) took place during August 1-12 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. It was organized by the Slovenian Language Technologies Society (SDJT), the Jozef Stefan Institute (IJS) and The Faculty of Mathematics and Physics (FMF). Chair of the Program Committee was Makoto Kanazawa (National Institute of Informatics, Tokyo), and Chair of the Organizing Committee was Darja Fiser (University of Ljubljana). During these two weeks 400 participants could choose from a rich and varied programme of 44 courses and 7 workshops which were offered by more than 100 renowned lecturers and researchers. All the course materials are available on the Moodle teaching platform (http://esslli.fmf.uni-lj.si/).

Besides the regular courses, a traditional highlight of the summer school were the 4 evening lectures by distinguished academics: Benedikt Loewe (Universiteit van Amsterdam), Mirella Lapata (University of Edinburgh), Bart Geurts (University of Nijmegen) and Dunja Mladenic (Jozef Stefan Institute). Their lectures were recorded and are available on the videolectures.net portal (http://videolectures.net/esslli2011_ljubljana/).

Another traditional event at ESSLLI 2011 was the student session, organized by a student programme committee which was chaired by Daniel Lassiter (Stanford University). This session enabled master and doctoral students to present their work to fellow students and senior researchers. In total, 16 papers and 6 posters were presented and evaluated by area experts, so that at the end of the summer school the 3 best paper/poster awards were presented to Alex Silk, Nal Kalchbrenner and Annika Deichsel.

The Beth Dissertation Awards were announced at the FoLLI General Meeting and were presented to Nils Bulling (TU Clausthal) and Mohan Ganesalingam (University of Cambridge). ESSLLI 2011 also hosted the 16th Formal Grammar Conference and honoured the sad death of a strong supporter of ESSLLI and a former FoLLI president Prof. Paul Gochet with a memorial service.

Apart from the busy academic programme, participants of the summer school were offered an exciting social program as well. In addition to the traditional ESSLLI Party and the famous Students vs. Lecturers Soccer Match, two excursions to the coast and the mountains were offered. The photos from all the events at the summer school are available in the photo gallery (http://esslli2011.ijs.si/?page_id=1854).

The budget of ESSLLI 2011 was based mainly on the participants' registration fees, with additional funding from the national research agency, local and international cultural institutions and academic organizations and business. In line with the ESSLLI tradition, all teaching and organizing work for the summer school was done on a voluntary basis. Lecturers and workshop organizers were not paid for their contribution but were reimbursed for part of their travel and accommodation cost. This financial policy made it possible to keep the participation at the school affordable for graduate students, and to award several grants to underprivileged but highly motivated students who would have otherwise been unable to attend the summer school.

To conclude, ESSLLI 2011 was an extremely successful and memorable academic and cultural event, and many of the participants are already looking forward to the next edition of the ESSLLI series, which will take place in Opole, Poland (http://www.esslli2012.pl/), during August 6-17 2012. Chair of the Program Committee of ESSLLI 2012 is Andreas Herzig (Institut de recherche en informatique de Toulouse and CNRS), and Chairs of the Organizing Committee are Janusz Czelakowski and Urszula Wybraniec-Skardowska (University of Opole).

Darja Fiser
Chair of the Organizing Committee of ESSLLI 2011

10. Calendar

The Calendar can be found here (also accessible by clicking on the link at the top left of the EACL web pages: http://www.eacl.org/).