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Computational Linguistics

Computational linguistics is the study of how computers can process human language. This can be done for practical purposes, or to throw light on how language works. (The term "natural language processing" is also sometimes used to describe this area.)

It is quite a new area, combining ideas and aims from the older field of linguistics (the study of language) with the newer concepts and methods of computer science (the study of computers and computation).

In work on the interpretation of language, the computer has to take words and sentences and try to make sense of them. On the other hand, in the generation of language, the computer starts with some job to do, or some facts, and has to build sentences to convey information to people. In some areas, such as automated translation or interactive dialogue systems, both interpretation and generation are involved.

The way that The Joking Computer works comes from the "language generation" area, although most research in language generation is more concerned with passing on facts to get a job done, rather than in trying to amuse people!

Some outside links about computational linguistics

A comprehensive site about Natural Language Processing
The Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL)
The ACL's site about Natural Language Generation

Other Computational Linguistics projects

 
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