Natural language processing (NLP), born over half a century ago at the crossroads of computer science and linguistics, is now an empowering force behind many AI applications. In recent years, the availability of large datasets from which to learn statistical models has contributed to a considerable progress in several natural language understanding tasks, including spoken language understanding,
machine translation and many others. Nevertheless, in practice there exist hugely varying approaches to tackle such problems depending on the industry. In many cases, the latest results of academic research are well ahead of the industrial practice, for example when it comes to general- purpose natural language understanding “enablers” on the cloud.

The objective of the Expert Group “NLP in action” is to foster a productive dialogue between the academic and industrial actors of NLP in Switzerland. Our aim is to discuss how the latest models in the academia can quickly turn into successful industrial applications, and how lessons learned in the industry can benefit and motivate academic research. We are aware that NLP research and development is still at an early stage in Switzerland, which is why we believe that the organizations who are active in the domain should reach out to one another and share common experience and –
ideally – data. The expert group features two kinds of activities: on the one hand, we welcome presentations from both the academia and the industry regarding promising topics and success stories, from contributors in and outside the Data+Service Alliance. On the other hand, we also look forward to discussing open challenges in the domain. Examples of such challenges include the complex linguistic landscape of Switzerland or the collection of training data and evaluation for end-to-end NLP applications.

Academic leader: Martin Jaggi, EPFL, martin.jaggi@epfl.ch

Industrial leader: Silvia Quarteroni, EPFL, silvia.quarteroni@data-service-alliance.ch