EACL Newsletter

Issue 3

September 2002

Table of Content
  1. Editorial
  2. Some views from the Chair
  3. EACL News: More on the new WEB site
  4. National CL/NLP Conferences: UK C.L.U.K
  5. EACL sponsored events: ESSLLI'02 in Trento
  6. Future Events: EACL'03, Budapest
  7. European Gossip
  8. Schedule of EACL and International ACL meetings, 2003 -- 2010

1. Editorial

After 4 years of service, Donia Scott will soon be stepping down from her office as EACL chair. During those four years, Donia has done an incredible job in revitalising EACL. Indeed, it is under her term that the EACL community witnessed the creation of a student board which allows junior researchers to learn and participate in the organisation of major CL events; the launch of a newsletter which (I hope) creates a better understanding of the aims and activities of the EACL and ACL related organisations; the revamping of the EACL web site for better communication and most of all, the broadening of the EACL conference with a new "Research notes" session!

These achievements are just the tip of the iceberg, the visible part. The invisible part as I have witnessed it, is hours of hard work and volumes of patience, strength and human understanding. Thank you, Donia, for doing such an outstanding job! We look forward to thanking you in person in Budapest next Spring.

Claire Gardent

2. Some Views From The Chair

This is my last communication with you as Chair, as my term expires in December. The Nominating Committee has proposed a new Board and, in accordance with our constitution, this is being circulated to all EACL members for ratification. The proposed board for 2002-2004 is:

Secretary John Carroll (UK)
Treasurer Mike Rosner (Mt)
Chair-elect Gertjan Van Noord (NL)
Advisory Board Felisa Verdejo (E)
Galia Angelova (Bg)
Hans Uszkoreit (D)
Ido Dagan (Isr)

As the current Chair-elect, Claire Gardent will automatically assume the role of Chair.

Any additional nominations must be sent to the EACL Secretary by email (secretary@eacl.org) by 15 October 2002: each nomination must be supported by at least three Chapter members and evidence must be presented that the nominee will serve if elected. If there are further nominations there will be a ballot of Chapter members; otherwise, the proposed slate will stand.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those members of the Board who will be officially standing down: Philippe Blache, Tomaz Erjavec and Piek Vossen. I say "officially" since they will generously continue to support the EACL community beyond their term of office: Philippe and Piek will be continuing their involvement in the organisation of the the EACL'03 conference, particularly in the solicitation of commercial and government sponsorship for the conference, and Tomaz's catalogue of upcoming events of relevance to the CL community will continue to be disseminated via the EACL web-site. Thanks also to Kemal Oflazer and Walter Daelemans, who will be stepping down from the Nominating Committee.

Finally, I would like to thank you all for the opportunity to work with you (twice!) in my capacity as Chair. I look forward to thanking you all in person in Budapest next Spring.

Chair of EACL

3. EACL News: More on the new EACL WEB site

In the last newsletter we announced the redesign of the EACL website and a preview of the new look-and-feel. The new site is now online at http://www.eacl.org. There you will find a wealth of information about the organisation, a calendar of European and Worldwide conferences and workshops, downloadable membership forms and contact details for the board.

In addition there are two resource sections, one containing links for the CL/NLP community as a whole, and one dedicated to students in the field. We hope that with your help we can build this into a comprehensive guide to online materials. We welcome additions and corrections to these links, and would like to use this opportunity to ask you to send in your favourite five or ten URLs for inclusion on the resource pages. An online form has been set up to make this easy (all you need do is cut and paste the links into the form and click submit) and can be accessed via the "Give us your Feedback" link on every page of the site, or directly through this link: http://www.coli.uni-sb.de/eacl/email.php3.

The student board are also responsible for the Student Research Workshop (SRW) to be held next April at EACL'03 in Budapest. A preliminary call for papers has already been sent out and further information is available on the workshop website at http://www.coli.uni-sb.de/conf/eacl03-student/. The student session will broadly follow the format of recent ACL SRWs, being held within the main conference programme and with session panellists specially selected for each accepted paper.

The student board can be contacted on students@eacl.org

The EACL Student Board
(Malte Gabsdil, John Herring, Julia Hockenmaier)

4. National CL/NLP Conferences: CLUK: Computational Linguistics UK

CLUK is a broad-based organisation for computational linguists and NLP researchers in the UK. It aims to complement the activities of European and international professional organisations (e.g. EACL/ACL) by providing: CLUK is organised very informally, with a committee of a dozen or so research students and more established researchers and without any executive posts or permanent budget. CLUK has a website http://www.dcs.shef.ac.uk/research/cluk/ containing a database of UK CL researchers (around 100 listed) and sets of links to online resources and information; it maintains a mailing list (visit the website for details about how to subscribe and send a mail to the list); it also organises colloquia, traditionally held at the beginning of January each year.

The colloquia are mainly targetted towards students, giving them a supportive environment in which they can start to present their work, make contacts, and discuss ongoing work with their peers from other institutions. The colloquia consist of student talks and posters, with a couple of invited talks from well-known CL researchers. The most recent (5th) CLUK Colloquium was hosted by the University of Leeds, and the next will be held at the University of Edinburgh, January 6-7, 2003. Students, watch out for the call for papers in the autumn!

John Carroll

5. EACL sponsored Events

ESSLLI'02, Trento

There was an EACL-sponsored course in 'Shallow Text Processing', lectured by Chris Brew of the Ohio State University, as part of the 14th European Summer School in Logic, Language and Information, 5-16 August 2002, Trento Italy. The course was Foundational, so the brief was to make the material accessible to students from a wide range of backgrounds. The goal was to provide people inexperienced in statistical and data-driven NLP with a taste of the capabilities of current text processing technology, and to get across some of the key concepts in building task-specific and data-driven systems. As is perhaps inevitable, some of the students had substantial prior knowledge of machine learning and text processing, while others were experiencing the area for the first time. The topics and level were chosen to appeal to the latter group.

Text is the native encoding standard for much commercially and scientifically significant information. Even in highly structured databases, such as occur in bioinformatics, law and medicine, it is usually the case that explicitly structured information (such as database rows) is complemented by free text. We therefore need to find ways of processing such text.

Many text problems have properties that favor the use of data-driven methods.

Examples include In a foundational course some preliminaries are necessary. The introductory part of the course covered n-gram based Language Identification, followed by a quick introduction decision trees. This part was designed to introduce the notion of sparse data and the crucial technique of cross-validation. Later in the course the examples were coreference classification (Aone and Bennett's MLR, and McCarthy and Lehnert's RESOLVE) and extraction from job adverts (Califf and Mooney's RAPIER). The point of these examples were, on the one hand, to emphasise the crucial importance of good task analysis to Shallow Text Processing, and on the other hand to give a taste of the variety of techniques currently used. At the very end I indulged in some guesses about the future, suggesting that it may be useful to think of Shallow Text Processing not so much as an approximation to the hard task of Deep Text Processing but as a separate discipline in which system design is motivated by a combination of novel or adapted machine learning techniques, task analysis and careful thought about document structure and author intent.

ESSLLI was as usual diverse and busy, Trento was beautiful, the local organization was energetic and effective, and part of the pleasure was seeing the vitality of the many linguistic and logical topics that are neither fashionable in the U.S. nor primarily motivated by engineering concerns. But Shallow Text Processing remains an important topic, and one which provides a likely channel for the creativity of people looking to use their linguistic, logical and computational skills to produce systems that obtain, process and use information extracted from text. If that happens, and the designers are ESSLLI alumni, I bet they'll produce things that are not only technically effective but also linguistically sophisticated and of theoretical interest. Finally, I'd like to thank the students for their interest and provocative questioning, and EACL for its encouragement and financial support.

Chris Brew

6. Future Events: EACL03, Budapest (http://www.conferences.hu/EACL03/)

As anounced in the previous EACL newsletter, the next EACL conference will be held in Budapest, Hungary on April 12-17, 2003. As has now become usual, the main program will be completed by a student workshop, thematic workshops, tutorials and software demos. However, the conference will also include two new features.

First, a call for research notes has been issued which invites short, 4 pages contributions presenting work in progress, project status reports, unevaluated results or system summaries. Accepted research notes will be presented at the main conference (during special sessions reserved to that effect) and published in a companion volume to the conference proceedings. Like the main program papers, research notes submission will be reviewed by an international scientific committee. Selection criteria will be less stringent however.

The intention behind this new feature is to open the conference to a wider community by including not only the traditional high-quality (i.e., low acceptance rate) theoretical track, but also a more applied track of "demo-talks" and a session for work-in-progress reports from national and pan-European projects. In this way, we hope to make the EACL conference an important meeting place and forum for discussion for students and researchers interested in computational linguistics and natural language processing.

The second new feature is a "Europe specific thematic orientation" whereby the various calls each encourage submissions (i.e., papers, research notes, demos, workshop or tutorials) on tools and resources for less-studied European and African/Mediterranean languages. Again this is meant to open the door more widely to the local CL community and to highlight the specificity of the European Chapter conference. Or in Donia Scott's words in the previous newsletter to make "EACL conferences become a gathering of all European CL researchers and a showcase for the extensive activities in our field within Europe; (to make it) a conference that is `complementary to' rather than `competitive with' the annual ACL meetings."

Claire Gardent
EACL Chair-Elect

7. European Gossip

Beth Prize for outstanding dissertations in Logic, Language and Information

The European Association for Logic, Language and Information (FoLLI) awards an annual prize to oustanding dissertations in the fields of Logic, Language and Information. The first competition of the FoLLI Dissertation Prize was held in the spring of 1998. Since 2002, the E. W. Beth Foundation kindly sponsors the prize which has therefore been named as the E. W. Beth Dissertation Prize in honour of the Dutch logician and philosopher Ewert Willem Beth (1908-1964).

An international committee selected the winners for the years 2001 and 2002 from a list of of truly outstanding nominations. On August 8, the prizes for the two years were awarded in a special ceremony at the European Summer School of Logic, Language and Information in Trento. The 2001 prize went to Gerald Penn of the University of Toronto for his dissertation `The Algebraic Structure of Attributed Type Signatures`. In this thesis Penn designs an algebraic foundation of typed feature structures that has led to a new algorithmic basis and an efficient implemented system for grammatical processing. The Beth Prize 2002 has been awarded to Maria Aloni of the University of Amsterdam for her thesis `Quantification under Conceptual Covers` in which she works out a new treatment of quantification in dynamic logic. In contrast to earlier notions of quantification in dynamic logic Aloni's solution does not suffer from undesirable over- or underspecification.

The abstracts of the theses can be found at:


8. Schedule of EACL and International ACL meetings, 2003-2010

2003 10th Meeting of the EACL, Budapest
ACL, Japan
2004 ACL-EACL, Barcelona, Spain
2005 ACL-NAACL, North America
2006 11th Meeting of the EACL
ACL, Asia
2007 ACL-EACL, Europe
2008 ACL-NAACL, North America
2009 12th Meeting of the EACL
ACL, Asia
2010 ACL-EACL, Europe

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