EACL Newsletter

Issue 10

October 2008

Table of Contents
  1. Editorial
  2. View from the Chair
  3. Current EACL Board
  4. Report on ACL:HLT08 2008
  5. Report on Coling 2008
  6. Report on LREC 2008
  7. Report on ESSLLI 2008
  8. Calendar


You are very welcome to the EACL newsletter for year 2008 !!

This year too we are happy to report on several very exciting and successful events that have taken place in Europe and nearby countries. The overall impression is that, in the Old Continent, our field is extremely active and expanding at an unprecedented rate. We also report below on the annual meeting of ACL, which has been held this year in North America. But first of all, let us start with some announcements of interest.

The 12th conference of the EACL will take place next year in Athens, Greece. The first Call for Paper went out on March this year, and submission deadline for regular papers is very close now !! Please read more information about this event in the note below by Alex Lascarides, EACL Chair and EACL 2009 Conference Chair. This also includes last minute news about workshops that will be co-located with EACL 2009.

The EACL student board is continuously updating a very dense calendar of events of interest to our community that will soon take place, not limited to Europe. The document is available in the EACL home page. We also have a new member of the student board of EACL. Anette Frank, EACL Secretary, has written a welcome note for the new member, reported below.

The EACL has a limited number of student sponsorships available to student participants of the EACL 2009 main conference, the EACL 2009 poster/demo session and/or the EACL 2009 student research workshop. Priority is given to students from Eastern Europe and, more generally, to students from countries with hard currency problems within the geographical area covered by EACL. Requests for further information about these student sponsorships can be directed to the EACL at secretary@eacl.org.

This year the 46th Annual Meeting of the ACL combined with the Human Language Technology Conference (HLT) has been jointly sponsored by the Association for Computational Linguistics and the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics. The conference was held in Columbus, Ohio, and has been extremely successful. Kathleen McKeown, the Conference Chair, has written a detailed report on the event, commenting on all the organizational activities that have made it possible.

The 22nd International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Coling 2008, was held in Manchester, UK. This event too has been a very successful one. The Program Co-Chairs, Donia Scott and Hans Uszkoreit, have written a very interesting report on the event, which includes several comments regarding subfield and country distributions for the accepted papers.

The 6th edition of the Language Resources and Evaluation Conference, LREC 2008, organized by the European Language Resources Association, has taken place in Marrakech (Morocco). The Conference Chair, Nicoletta Calzolari, and Program Committee member Khalid Choukri have kindly written an interesting report on the event, commenting also on the quick expansion of the area of language resources.

As every year, we also publish a report on the European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information (ESSLLI) 2008, organized by the Association for Logic, Language and Information. The event took place in Hamburg, Germany. The Program Committee Chair, Rineke Verbrugge, has written a detailed report, including information on country distribution for participants.

Giorgio Satta

View From The Chair

A year has passed since the last newsletter, and in that time EACL has been busy preparing for EACL 2009. The deadline for submitting papers to the main conference is:

23:59 CET on 10th October 2009.

I want to strongly encourage all of you to submit papers; I'm very confident that EACL 2009 is going to be a fantastic conference. The local organisers, chaired by Vangelis Karkaletsis, have proved to be a fantastic asset. They secured for us the premier conference venue in Greece (and at a great price!). It's an ideal place for us to interact and discuss our research, as well as providing a great central base from which to explore everything that Athens has to offer.

The ACL exec, the EACL board and the EACL 2009 PC chairs are all concerned with diversifying the types of research that gets reported in the main part of ACL conferences. If you feel that your work doesn't conform to the methodologies that are dominant among recent ACL papers, or that the task that you tackle, while centred to natural language, is in some way unusual, then please don't hesitate to submit to EACL 2009! The PC chairs want to encourage a broad main programme, and together with the area chairs they will ensure that reviewing is rigorous, with each paper being evaluated against appropriate criteria. A single set of rigid criteria does not fit all papers. And changes have been made to the review form to reflect this.

I'm also pleased to announce that EACL 2009 will play host to the following 10 workshops:

  1. The Interaction between Linguistics and Computational Linguistics:
    Virtuous, Vicious or Vacuous?
    Timothy Baldwin and Valia Kordoni
    1 day
  2. GEMS - Geometric Models of Natural Language Semantics
    Roberto Basili and Marco Pennacchiotti
    1 day
  3. LaTeCH-09: Third Workshop on Language Technology for Cultural Heritage Data
    Piroska Lendvai, Antal van den Bosch, Martin Reynaert, Caroline
    Sporleder and Lars Borin
    1 day
  4. Fourth Workshop on Statistical Machine Translation
    Chris Callison-Burch, Philipp Koehn, Josh Schroeder and Christof Monz
    2 days
  5. Second International Workshop on Semantic Representation of Spoken
    Language 2009 (SRSL9)
    Thierry Declerck and Manuel Alcantara-Pla
    1 day
  6. 12th European Workshop on Natural Language Generation (ENLG 2009)
    Emiel Krahmer and Mariet Theune
    2 days
  7. Language Technologies for African Languages
    Lori Levin
    1 day
  8. Computational Approaches to Semitic Languages
    Mike Rosner and Shuly Wintner
    1 day
  9. Workshop on Cognitive Aspects of Computational Language Acquisition
    Thierry Poibeau, Afra Alishahi and Aline Villavicencio
    1 day
  10. Computational Linguistic Aspects of Grammatical Inference
    Menno van Zaanen and Colin de la Higuera
    1 day

For the first time the call for workshop proposals was coordinated among all ACL conferences. I think that it worked well for both the workshop committees and the proposers.

Announcements for the EACL 2009 tutorials, demos and accepted papers will all appear in due course on the website:


I am very grateful to all those involved in organising EACL 2009. As general chair, my job has been made easy by the fantastic team of people who do the real work. I would particularly like to thank the various chairs:

Local chair
Vangelis Karkaletsis
Local co-chairs
Ion Androutsopoulos
Stelios Piperidis
PC chairs
Claire Gardent
Joakim Nivre
Workshop chairs
Stephen Clark
Miriam Butt
Tutorial chairs
Emiel Krahmer
David Weir
Demos chair
Jorn Kreutel
student w/s chair
Vera Demberg
Yanjun Ma
Nils Reiter
pubs chair
Kemal Oflazer
David Schlangen
Philipp Koehn
Josef van Genabith
Hitoshi Isahara
Kim-Teng Lua

See you in Athens!

Alex Lascarides
Chair, EACL

Current EACL Board and Upcoming Board Elections

The current EACL Board, in place since early 2007, is as follows:

Alex Lascarides (University of Edinburgh)
Chair elect:
Giorgio Satta (University of Padua)
Mike Rosner (University of Malta)
Anette Frank (University of Heidelberg)
Advisory Board:
Eric Gaussier (Joseph Fourier University, Grenoble)
Paola Merlo (University of Geneva)
Kiril Simov (Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Sofia)
Josef van Genabith (Dublin City University)
Nominating committee:
John Carroll (University of Sussex)
Claire Gardent (LORIA, Nancy)
Gertjan van Noord (University of Groningen)
Felisa Verdejo (Ciudad Universitaria Madrid)

In July we had a change on the EACL Student Board, with one new new member joining in: Nils Reiter, who replaces Nuria Bertomeu.

EACL Student Board:
Vera Demberg (University of Edinburgh)
Yanjun Ma (Dublin City University)
Nils Reiter (University of Heidelberg)

We want to thank Nuria for her great service on the Student Board! And we welcome Nils Reiter, who presents himself with a short bio below.

Nils Reiter, Student Board Member

Nils Reiter is a PhD student at Heidelberg University. He received a Diploma in Computational Linguistics from Saarland Universtiy, Germany. His current research interests are the use of ontologies in applications, structured and unstructured knowledge representation and non-monotonic logics.

Upcoming elections for new EACL Board

By the end of the year, elections will take place for the new EACL Board. Invitations for nominations will be sent out in October.

Anette Frank
Secretary, EACL

Report on ACL08:HLT

This year's conference, ACL:HLT08, was jointly sponsored by the Association for Computational Linguistics and the North American Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics and it thus brought together the traditions of both organizations. As is evident from the title, one of those traditions is the focus on research from all areas of Human Language Technology, including information retrieval, natural language processing and speech. The conference featured invited speakers in speech (Marc Swerts of Tilburg University) and information retrieval (Susan Dumais of Microsoft Research). There were also sessions devoted to all three of these areas in the conference. I hope this conference has again encouraged interaction among researchers from the different areas.

Since I was last involved in organizing the ACL Conferences back in the 90's, the conferences have grown dramatically. This year there were eight committees involved in the organization, most of which had two or more chairs. This included the program committee, tutorial organizers, student research workshop, demos organizers, publications, publicity and sponsorship. For committees that were involved in putting together the various aspects of the program, we had co-chairs drawn from the three main areas of the conference. In order to facilitate organization, in most cases, one chair was designated as the main coordinator and that person drove the organization of their committee, was my main contact, and communicated with the other co-chairs. This organization worked quite well. I was quite impressed with the energy and commitment of the different chairs. This made my job much easier.

The group of volunteers included the Program Chairs, Johanna Moore, Simone Teufel, James Allan and Sadaoki Furui, who put in many hours to provide us with the main program for the conference and the Local Arrangements Chair, Chris Brew, who provided us with the venue for the conference overseeing the many time-demanding details. The webmaster was DJ Hovermale, who put in many hours aggregating information from everyone. The Chairs of the Student Research Workshop, Ebru Arisoy, Wolfgang Maier and Keisuke Inoue, worked quite independently, along with the Faculty Advisor, Jan Wiebe, putting together an excellent student research session . The Workshop Chair, Ming Zhou managed the workshop program with ease, a program that has grown over the years so that it seems like a conference in and of itself. The Tutorial Chairs, Ani Nenkova, Marilyn Walker and Eugene Agichtein have put together a fine tutorial program and the Demo Chair, Jimmy Lin, has organized a nice series of demos. The Sponsorship Chairs are responsible for bringing in funding to cover various programs and Inderjeet Mani, Josef van Genabith and Michael White put serious effort into raising funds for the conference. The Publicity Chairs, Hal Daume, Eric Fosler-Lussier and Diane Kelly, reached out to communities outside the central natural language areas to encourage people to submit papers and attend the conference. Finally, the Publication Chairs, Joachim Nivre and Noah Smith, were very organized and handily managed the job of pulling all materials together for the main conference and workshop proceedings, no small feat.

There were several other changes that we tried this year. A new plan for sponsorship was developed that would enable coordination among different ACL Conferences and across the years. This plan was finalized during the summer and thus, relatively late in the process of selecting chairs. It is an ambitious plan and we are fortunate to have one person who has agreed to serve in a multi-year, multi-conference capacity. However, finding people who are willing to serve in this larger capacity is difficult. I think the next conference chair needs to start finding people early for this task and the ACL should think about how to make the task more rewarding.

We also instituted a change this year in the number of publication chairs. In previous years, there was only one and this year, we expanded that number to two. I think this change worked well. The task was divided by proceedings with Joakim Nivre handling the main proceedings and Noah Smith handling the workshop proceedings. Given the number of workshops, I think an extra person was needed to handle this. We also made it possible for them to find help within their local institutions, something that is also needed for this particular job. There was a fair amount of communication between the publication chairs to various other chairs and the publishers. I found that it seamlessly switched between Joakim and Noah and that when one was unavailable, the other would easily substitute. So I would recommend again having two publications chairs in future years.

This year the number of student paper submissions was lower than usual and for future years, I would recommend asking the student research chairs to think about how to publicize. This was unexpected this year so we did not think of doing this ahead of time. Faculty at different universities should keep in mind that with a lower number of submissions, there is a better chance for the students to have papers accepted. The student papers are presented in a parallel track as are all other papers and students will have equal exposure.

In addition to the many Chairs, there are several individuals within the ACL organization itself who deserve recognition. First and foremost, Dragomir Radev provided guidance about what to do next at every step and had the answer to every question I had within seconds. Owen Rambow also provided much needed advice from the perspective of the North American Chapter. Priscilla Rasmussen is critical to the running of the conference, with her organizational history of how things work. The ACL also has a Coordinating Committee which oversees the conference organization, providing advice when needed.

Kathleen McKeown
Conference Chair, ACL08:HLT

Report on Coling 2008

COLING 2008, the 22nd International Conference on Computational Linguistics was held in Manchester, UK in August. It was the first COLING conference in the UK, a country with a rich history and lively research scene in Computational Linguistics. The great response to the call for papers may have been caused by this location or it may just have been a consequence of the rapid growth of our discipline. In any case, the 600 submissions of high average quality we received made it relatively easy for the program committee to put together an excellent program (see http://www.coling2008.org.uk/).

The Programme:

COLING'08 attracted 600 submissions of papers, posters and demos. Of these 48 were not reviewed because they were either withdrawn or rejected for failing to meet the the submission requirements. The geographical profile of the remaining submissions was:

After a thorough reviewing process including a period of interactive deliberation, the program committee selected 146 full papers and 36 poster presentations. The central criterion for the selection was scientific quality rather than geographic balance or the desirable spread across subareas. We tried to apply a multidimensional concept of quality that does not exclusively favour technically sound engineering papers but also yields some space for challenging scientific insights and first reports on novel approaches.

Looking at the distribution of the papers among subfields of CL, we made a few observations. One concerns the central theme of machine learning. Although the term machine learning only appears in the name of one single session, machine learning actually transcends nearly all represented subfields of our discipline.

After decades of hibernation, the area of machine translation has again become a central field of research. Almost all of the MT related submissions are on statistical translation but a growing number of papers describes clever combinations of methods from different paradigms. Compared with MT, the area of natural language generation is much less represented, which may partially be due to this year's International Language Generation Conference in Ohio.

The area of information extraction still keeps growing. With subareas such as opinion mining, sentiment detection and event extraction it has become rather diversified.

A special observation concerns specialised types of phrase disambiguation or classification that cannot easily be subsumed under IR or IE since the described methods could also be utilised for summarisation, paraphrasing or other application types. In general it has become harder to assign method papers to just one traditional technology area. This is nicely reflected in the authors' choice of multiple keywords from different areas.

We only received few submissions on speech technologies, in our opinion even less than in earlier COLING conferences. Although this development might simply be attributed to the inevitable and ever progressing differentiation of the human language technologies, it may also be the case that the meeting market in this area is well covered by the well known speech conferences. This year's ACL conference also had just a single speech processing session.

We hope that our colleagues will forgive us for having been rather strict with double submissions. In several cases accepted submissions were finally turned down because a paper with largely overlapping content had appeared or was scheduled to appear elsewhere (We also had to turn down a number of papers that were not anonymised). We believe that our field has to find a proper way of dealing with the increasing number of professional conferences without sacrificing the basic principles of scientific publishing.

We were privileged to have keynote addresses by two leading scientists in related areas: Elizabeth Shriberg (SRI and Berkeley) on Challenges to Using Prosody in Automatic Language Processing and John Shawe-Taylor (UCL) on Machine Learning for multimodal analysis.

After deciding to enrich this Conference with a Best COLING Paper Award, we received an offer from the renowned scientific publishing house Springer to support such an award. We are grateful to Springer for this generous donation and thank especially Olga Chiarcos for her efforts in this case. The Best COLING Paper Award went to Bill MacCartney and Christopher Manning for their paper on "Modeling Semantic Containment and Exclusion in Natural Language Inference". We encourage you all to read it, and the other papers. The COLING 2008 proceedings are already included in the ACL Anthology!

Together with Olga Chiarcos we also thought about means for making COLING even more attractive and visible. Olga proposed a special book publication of selected ground-breaking COLING papers in their extended versions. This is an excellent idea which is being implemented already for this COLING conference.

The geographical profile of the accepted submissions was:


The conference attracted 421 attendees from 37 countries. The breakdown for this is:

We want to thank the area chairs who steered the reviewing process to a fruitful end, and to acknowledge the successful work of our numerous colleagues who acted as reviewers. Our special gratitude goes to Roger Evans for his hard and uncompromising work on the proceedings and Christian Spurk for the excellent technical support he gave to the Programme Committee. We would also like to thank the local organizer Harold Somers for providing such a good venue, outing and banquet, for his hard work in achieving this, and for his constructive cooperation with the Programme Committee.

COLING 2010 will be in Beijing. We look forward to seeing you there!

Donia Scott and Hans Uszkoreit
Program Co-Chairs, Coling 2008

Report on LREC 2008

LREC, launched in 1998 in Granada as a visionary idea of Antonio Zampolli and other colleagues, celebrated its tenth birthday in the wonderful city of Marrakech. The conference had the honour of receiving the Royal Patronage of His Majesty Mohammed VI, King of Morocco, highlighting the importance assigned to multilingual and multicultural issues.

This year LREC broke many records: we accepted 645 papers out of the more than 900 submissions, and we had over 1,100 participants from all continents. In addition, over 30 satellite events such as tutorials and workshops took place, increasing the chances of discussion and exchange. These figures indicate the great vitality of the broad area of Language Resources (LR) and Evaluation and bear witness to the existence of a strong LR community.

The conference was organised by ELRA (the European Language Resources Association) in cooperation with a wide range of international associations and organisations. Since its creation in 1995, ELRA has focused its activities on LRs and Evaluation and the need for common sharing and utilization of the LRs that are required for R&D activities in the Human Language Technology communities.

LREC has become an important observation post for feeling the pulse of today's initiatives in the field, with the possibility not just of listening to the ``best or most innovative'' method or technique, but of examining the wide diversity of approaches, the variety of resources for many languages including ``minority'' ones, new emerging trends, large projects, initiatives and infrastructures. This broadness of themes, topics and perspectives is an essential contribution towards forming a better global vision of our field and thus stimulating new ideas.

We no longer have to defend or promote the data-driven approaches: they are pervasive and have a well-deserved and ample recognition as the necessary infrastructure underlying Language Technology (LT). It is the merit (mostly) of LRs that LT acquires the maturity and attains the robustness needed to be truly usable in applications with a great impact in the society.

The consistent growth of the field brings in itself some sort of revolution, and the need for convergence of the many communities now acting separately, such as LR and LT developers, text, speech and multimodal specialists, terminology, semantic web and ontology experts, content providers, linguists and so on. The achievement of a worldwide linguistic infrastructure, however, requires the coverage not only of a range of technical aspects, but also -- and maybe most critically -- of a number of organisational aspects. This is one of the challenges for the immediate future, for a usable and useful language scenario in the global and multilingual network. LREC plays an important role in the integration of these various communities. This explosion of the field does not mean that there are no infrastructural issues still to be discussed and solved. Important examples are the problem of LR maintenance, or the critical issues of interoperability and sharing: some interesting debates took place during different panels highlighting these aspects (e.g., panel on data centre missions).

The continuous evolution of the field should also be complemented by a reflection on priorities and future strategies. The fact that a number of strategic-infrastructural initiatives are now being launched in all the continents represents an enormous achievement and opportunity. It is a sign that funding agencies recognise the strategic value of our work and the importance of helping coherent growth through a number of coordinated actions. LREC, together with its workshops, is the place where these -- and future -- initiatives are presented, discussed, and promoted.

LREC 2008 Proceedings, together with the proceedings of the accompanying workshops, are now available on the web, and also those of past LRECs will be soon made available as a service to the community and indexed in the ACL Anthology.


Nicoletta Calzolari
Program Committee Chair, LREC 2008

Khalid Choukri
Program Committee member, LREC 2008

Report on ESSLLI 2008

The 20th European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information took place at the University of Hamburg, Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg, 4-15 August, 2008. The summer school offered 40 courses, as usual divided into three levels (foundational, introductory and advanced) and three tracks (language and logic, logic and computation, and language and computation). The courses were accompanied by 8 workshops and 4 evening lectures.

The Language and Computation track gave courses on, for example, negative polarity items, dialogue systems, statistical machine translation, grammar induction and language evolution, the syntax-semantics interface, unification grammars, etc. One of the evening lectures, 'Teaching grammars to computers' was also devoted to Language and Computation. A number of these events was filmed by EACL.

This years summer was attended by the stunning number of around 460 students and lecturers from 43 countries. The biggest national delegations were Germany (21%), the Netherlands (17%), the United Kingdom (11%), France (9%), Italy (7%) and the USA (6%). Other double digit delegations were Japan (11 participants), South Korea and Belgium (10 participants each).

The teaching and learning were complemented by a soccer match among student teams, weekend excursions to the Hamburg harbor and to Lubeck, canoeing, a party, and other joys of Hamburg. This year for the first time, a music room, complete with harpsichord, was reserved for ESSLLI, and throughout the two weeks summer school a number of participants enjoyed the possibility to join others in playing chamber music.

Further information about ESSLLI 2008, along with complete course materials and pictures of the event, is available via http://www.illc.uva.nl/ESSLLI2008/

Rineke Verbrugge
Program Committee Chair, ESSLLI 2008


The calendar can be found at http://eacl.coli.uni-saarland.de/page.php?id=calendar