Aberdeen has a long tradition of work in Natural Language Generation (NLG), getting computer programs to produce text in an ordinary language such as English, starting from information not expressed in language, such as tables of numerical data or a collection of entries in a database. In recent years, the NLG theme has branched out into various other areas of Computational Linguistics. One example is the type of process where the generation process starts from information stated in language, and the aim is to re-phrase the text, for example to make it more readable.
In recognition of the diversification that our theme has undergone, we are starting to be known as the Computational Linguistics in AberdeeN (CLAN) research theme. Our theme has explored a wide range of practical uses of NLG, such as writing brief weather forecasts and summarising medical data, and this work has led to the spin-out company Arria. We are also interested in theoretical issues, such as the use of algorithms for modelling human language use, and in this area we collaborate actively with researchers in psycholinguistics in Aberdeen and elsewhere.
Recurring research areas in our work include:
- Evaluation of natural language generation
- Medical applications of NLG
- Controlled experiments with human users
- Exploring various uses of text, not just the stating of factual information
- Considering the kinds of effects that text can have on readers (eg, stress)
- Expressing quantitative information (including "big data")
- Generating text that is easy to read and understand
The CLAN research theme is very active in the wider international research community. The theme has weekly meetings where topical issues in and around Computational Linguistics are discussed.