A two-day workshop on Computational Linguistics was conducted by Amrita Darshanam – International Centre for Spiritual Studies (ICSS) at Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru campus, March 30-31, 2019. This was the first step of the Centre towards the field of Computational Linguistics.
Computational Linguistics is a blend of linguistics and technology. It is a multi-disciplinary field concerned with statistical, rule-based and grammatical modelling of natural languages from a computational perspective. This branch of linguistics applies computational techniques to the analysis and synthesis of language and speech. A nascent and a highly potential area of research, it deals with the six basic levels of linguistics namely - Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics and Pragmatics. A specialized study of the field is advantageous for delving into a wide array of subjects such as Artificial Intelligence, Data Sciences and NLP, etc. This workshop focused not only on the computational aspect but also on the linguistic aspect of the subject.
The workshop aimed at:
- giving a broad outline of Computational Linguistics,
- understanding the fundamentals of Computational Linguistics,
- comprehending the importance and contribution of Sanskrit Śāstra-s to the field of Computational Linguistics,
- focusing on primary application areas such as Natural Language Processing, Lexicography (includes word-net, word-web, etc.) and Cognitive Sciences,
- a bird's-eye view on languages and their connection with Computational Linguistics,
- study of the Indo-Word-Net,
- cognitive NLP & current trends of NLP,
- relevance of the Indian Grammatical Tradition for NLP.
The workshop was inaugurated on March 30, 2019, in the presence of Prof. K. P. Soman (Chairperson, Center for Computational Engineering and Networking (CEN), Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore Campus); Dr. Anand Kumar M. (Assistant Professor, Dept. of Information Technology, NITK, Surathkal) and Prof. Rakesh S. G. (Associate Dean & Head, School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru campus). The gathering was welcomed by Mr. Manish Rajan Walvekar (Assistant Professor, Amrita Darshanam, Bengaluru) who also gave the workshop overview. The dignitaries congratulated the Centre in their speeches.
The participants were guided by Prof. K. P. Soman, Prof. Malhar Kulkarni (Dept. of Humanities and Social Sciences, Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay); Prof. Amba Kulkarni (Head, Dept. of Sanskrit Studies, University of Hyderabad); Dr. Anand Kumar M. and Dr. Premjith. On the first day, Dr. Anand Kumar elucidated topics on “Deep learning for NLP”, “Computational Linguistics tools”, and “Word Embeddings for Social Media Text Analysis” which gave a broader view to the participants as far as the NLP was concerned. His lectures were highly rich in technical details and such details were illustrated precisely. The participants, specifically from the engineering background, gained good inputs to expand the horizons of their career. Adding to the technical knowledge, Dr. Premjith and Ms. Jyothi, guided by Prof. K. P. Soman, threw a light on the topics such as “Data Interpretation”, “POS Tagging”, “NER”, “Word Segmentation” and “Morphological Analysis and Generation”. A participant expressed, “These basic and fundamental lectures enlightened us about the inter-disciplinary and cross-disciplinary approaches required for Natural Language Processing”.
The next day was mainly dedicated to the linguistic part of NLP. However, Prof. Amba Kulkarni put forth the inter-disciplinary approaches when she discussed on “Indian Grammatical Tradition & NLP” and “Sanskrit Computational Linguistics”. She strongly emphasized the vital and inevitable role of the Indian grammatical tradition in the field of NLP. She also explained the ground-breaking work done by her in the field of “Sanskrit Computational Linguistics”. Participants were highly motivated after comprehending the role of the Indian knowledge system in today’s technical era. Prof. Malhar Kulkarni, a reputed expert of Sanskrit grammar, elaborated on a newly emerging sub-field of NLP – Sanskrit Cognitive NLP. Through several interesting examples and thought-provoking questions, he asserted the importance and the need of Sanskrit Cognitive NLP. He also illustrated how the knowledge of Sanskrit is useful for the “Indo-Word Net”. One of the most distinctive features of Prof. Malhar Kulkarni’s elucidations was his analytical view. Both Prof. Malhar Kulkarni and Prof. Amba Kulkarni motivated participants on the synthesis between language and technology.
Twenty-three outside participants from across the country and 40 students of Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru campus, as well as faculty, attended the workshop. They were from different backgrounds, such as engineering, grammar, wireless communication and literature, to name a few. The content of the workshop catered well to learned and laymen, and all participants felt enriched and satisfied.
The workshop concluded with a valedictory session that included the workshop report delivered by Mr. Arjun Bharadwaj (Assistant Professor, Amrita Darshanam, Bengaluru) and ended with a vote of thanks.