Natural Language Overview

Understanding & Generating Text & Speech

Natural Language Processing enables communication between people and computers and automatic translation to enable people to interact easily with others around the world.

Progress on building computer systems that process natural language in any meaningful sense requires considering language as part of a larger communicative situation.

Regarding language as communication requires consideration of what is said (literally), what is intended, and the relationship between the two.

- Barbara Grosz, Utterance and Objective

The value to our society of being able to communicate with computers in everyday natural language cannot be overstated. Imagine asking your computer "Does this candidate have a good record on the environment?" or "When is the next televised National League baseball game?" Or being able to tell your PC "Please format my homework the way my English professor likes it." Commercial products can already do some of these things, and AI scientists expect many more in the next decade. One goal of AI work in natural language is to enable communication between people and computers without resorting to memorization of complex commands and procedures. Automatic translation---enabling scientists, business people and just plain folks to interact easily with people around the world---is another goal. Both are just part of the broad field of AI and natural language, along with the cognitive science aspect of using computers to study how humans understand language.