Dr. Marcos Zampieri – invited speaker at RAAI 2018

The 2nd Conference on Recent Advances in Artificial Intelligence (RAAI) took place on June 25-26 in Buchrest, Romania. It was organized by Prof. Liviu P. Dinu and colleagues from the Faculty of Mathematics and Computer Science of the University of Bucharest.

The conference lasted two days. The first day focused on Natural Language Processing with three invited speakers: Cornelia Caragea from Kansas State University, Marius Pasca from Google, and Marcos Zampieri from the University of Wolverhampton, as well as several presenters from Romania and from abroad. The second day featured presentations on computer vision and other areas of A.I. including a panel discussion with researchers and developers from local A.I. companies such as Bitdefender.

Marcos’ presentation entitled “Automatic Language Identification: A Solved Task? ModellingDialectal Variation in Language Identification Systems” provided an overview of the main challenges in language identification with special focus on dialectal variation taking the lessons learned in the five years of the VarDial workshop into account.

Omid Rohanian: My visit to LxMLS summer school

I recently participated in the LxMLS summer school in Lisbon, Portugal. This is an annual event that focuses on theory and application of machine learning with a focus on natural language processing. The lectures followed a linear progression, starting from the fundamentals of traditional machine learning and later covered developments in deep learning. Each day in the morning, there was a lecture on some aspect of machine learning and then after the lunch students were assembled into groups to participate in the practical programming sessions. In the afternoons there was a talk on some application of machine learning in an actual research project.

In total there were more than 230 participants and the summer school lasted for 8 days. The lecturers are accomplished researchers in the field and the presentations were usually engaging and informative. I particularly enjoyed the talks given by Noah Smith, Chris Dyer, and Kyunghyun Cho. The event also included a poster presentation and a demo day where regional IT companies showcased their work and did recruitment advertising.

During the summer school I got the opportunity to get to know several PhD students working in the field from universities around the world and the networking was very valuable. The practical coding sessions could have been organised better with more supervision but overall I consider the experience as positive and worthwhile. I also found a bit of time during the day off to explore Lisbon and its surrounding areas. I enjoyed the historical delights and the amazing seafood and look forward to revisiting Portugal again soon.

Dr Michael Oakes attends the LingPhil Summer School


The LingPhil summer school is an annual event primarily for the training of Ph.D. students in linguistics and philosophy in Norway, but students from other countries can come as well. This year it was held at the Solstrand Hotel and Spa, near Bergen in Norway which is a beautiful old hotel built in 1896.

The school opened on Monday June 4th with a session by Ewa Dąbrowska highlighting the “Seven Deadly Sins of Cognitive Linguistics”, which include excessive reliance on introspective evidence.

The following day Paul Kerswill from the University of York spoke on sociolinguistics – demography, social structure and identity in language change. As case studies, he talked about contact varieties of English which grew up in the Industrial Revolution, and recent developments in London English. Languages which are in contact become simplified, while languages which are isolated grow more complex. Steve Mann from Warwick University gave a training session on the research interview – how to collect data and analyse it, and the pros and cons of individual interviews and focus groups.

Wednesday was eventful, starting with a session on Corpus Pragmatics.  Our excursion was in the afternoon, a boat trip along the Bjørner Fjord to the island of Lysøen, which was once owned by Ole Bull, a world famous violinist. He had built an ornately carved wooden house there, with a main room that could be used as a small concert hall.  One of the organisers, Gisle Andersen, came with his choir to sing songs composed by Ole Bull and Edvard Grieg.

On the Thursday, I gave my sessions on “Statistics for Linguistics”, using Chris Butler’s book of the same name as the basis of the course. It was a busy day for me, as in the evening, I led a discussion group with students who are using statistics in their Ph.D. studies. Agnes Marie Bamford, who runs her own consultancy, and Claudia F. Hegrenæs from the Norwegian School of Economics, ran the career workshop. They pointed out that many transferrable skills can be gained from studying for a Ph.D., such as writing, networking, time management, analytic skills, critical thinking, problem solving, processing information quickly, endurance, grant writing skills, presentation skills, organising and coordinating, teaching experience even outside your comfort zone, and how to pitch your project. In fact, there was a special session devoted to the students all preparing “elevator pitches” to describe their work in two or three minutes.

On the final day, Åsta Haukås from the University of Bergen gave a session on multilingualism, and strategies that people, who are already at least bilingual, use to learn new languages. Many of these had been discovered using questionnaires based on SILL, the Strategy Inventory of Language Learning. As an illustration, we were given an article about Juliette Binoche in Dutch, and guessed the origins of each word in the text.

PhD studentship in Translation Technology

Closing date 20th June 2018, Skype interviews 26th June 2018

The Research Group in Computational Linguistics (http://rgcl.wlv.ac.uk) at the University of Wolverhampton invites applications for a 3-year PhD studentship in the area of translation technology. This PhD studentship is part of a larger university investment which includes other PhD students and members of staff with the aim to strengthen the existing research undertaken by members of the group in this area. This funded student bursary consist of a stipend towards living expenses (£14,500 per year) and remission of fees.

We invite applications in the area of translation technology defined in the broadest sense possible and ranging from advanced methods in machine translation to user studies which involves the use of technology in the translation process. We welcome proposals focusing on Natural Language Processing techniques for translation memory systems and translation tools in general. Given the current research interests of the group and its focus on computational approaches, we would be interested in topics including but not limited to:

– Enhancing retrieval and matching from translation memories with linguistic information – The use of deep learning (and in general, statistical) techniques in translation memories – (Machine) translation of user generated content – The use of machine translation in cross-lingual applications (with particular interest in sentiment analysis, automatic summarisation and question answering) – Phraseology and computational treatment of multi-word expressions in machine translation and translation memory systems – Quality estimation for translation professionals

Other topics will also be considered as long as they align with the interests of the group. The appointed student is expected to work on a project that has a significant computational component. For this reason we expect that the successful candidate will have good background in computer science and programming.

The application deadline is 20th June 2018 and Skype interviews with the shortlisted candidates are planned for the 26th June. The starting date of the PhD position is as soon as possible after the offer is made.

The successful applicant must have:

– A good honours degree or equivalent in Computational Linguistics, Computer Science, Translation studies or Linguistics – A strong background in Programming and Statistics/ Mathematics or in closely related areas (if relevant to the proposed topic). – Experience in Computational Linguistics / Natural Language Processing, including statistical, Machine Learning and Deep Learning, applications to Natural Language Processing. – Experience with translation technology – Experience with programming languages such as Python, Java or R is a plus – An IELTS certificate with a score of 6.5 is required from candidates whose native language is not English. If a certificate is not available at the time of application, the successful candidate must be able to obtain it within one month from the offer being made.

Candidates from both UK/EU and non-EU can apply. We encourage applications from female candidates.

Applications must include:

1. A curriculum vitae indicating degrees obtained, courses covered, publications, relevant work experience and names of two referees that could be contacted if necessary

2. A research statement which outlines the topics of interest. More information about the expected structure of the research statement can be found at https://www.wlv.ac.uk/media/departments/star-office/documents/Guidelines-for-completion-of-Research-Statement.doc

Information on RGCL:

Established by Prof Mitkov in 1998, the research group in Computational Linguistics delivers cutting-edge research in a number of NLP areas. The results from the latest Research Evaluation Framework confirm the research group in Computational Linguistics as one of the top performers in UK research with its research defined as ‘internationally leading, internationally excellent and internationally recognised’. The research group has recently completed successfully the coordination of the EXPERT project a successful EC Marie Curie Initial Training Network promoting research, development and use of data-driven technologies in machine translation and translation technology (http://expert-itn.eu).


To find out more, please contact:

Dr Constantin Orasan (Reader in Computational Linguistics , Deputy Head of the Research Group in Computational Linguistics)

Research Group in Computational Linguistics Research Institute of Information and Language Processing University of Wolverhampton MC139 Stafford Street Wolverhampton WV1 1LY

Tel. +44 (0) 1902 321630 Email: C.Orasan at wlv.ac.uk Homepage: http://dinel.org.uk

RGCL PhD Students attend Annual Research Conference

Last week, the RGCL PhD Students presented their research to their peers and staff members from across the University. The posters were well received.

Richard Evans: ‘Sentence Simplification for Language Processing’

My research is about the development and evaluation of automatic methods for the analysis and simplification of sentences. The analysis step is shallow, making it efficient and robust when processing long complex sentences. The simplification method is iterative, allowing it to simplify sentences containing multiple occurrence and multiple types of complexity.


Ahmed Omer: ‘Arabic Stylometry’

Computational Stylometry is the computer analysis of writing style. Successful techniques for computational stylometry characterise the texts under study by large numbers of linguistic features, such as the frequencies of word, character, or sentence length. 


The degree of stylistic difference between a pair of documents can then be found by any of a number of measures which compare the sets of linguistic features for each document.


Omid Rohanian: ‘ NLP Approaches to estimating Text Difficulty’

I am exploring NLP approaches in investigating text difficulty at the level of concepts. I regard conceptual difficulties, as linguistic phenomena that cause some form of complication in language understanding. This complication can manifest itself in elongation of processing, which could be captured in eye tracking data, or in the form of misunderstanding the intended meaning. Conceptual difficulties alter literal meaning, and in order to comprehend them, one might need to do additional processing.

If you are interested in pursuing a PhD with the Research Group in Computational Linguistics, please find further information on our Master and PhD studies page.

Women in Science Research Seminar

Last week the Research Group in Computational Linguistics hosted a Women in Science Research Seminar.  The invited speaker was Dr Corina Forascu (Faculty of Computer Science, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iasi, Romania Fulbrighter @ University of Rochester, NY, USA)

The seminar was attended by colleagues across the University and there was an engaged discussion after Corina’s talk – perhaps the start of fledgling ‘Women in Science Network’ at Wolverhampton?

Abstract: Let’s do IT, ladies!

Nowadays, with the existing disparity between men and women in IT, there are many initiatives aiming to bridge this gap. The speaker will introduce the main groups and activities related to women in IT, Computer Science and related fields. She will present current openings dedicated to them, like conferences or contests. Based on the initiatives and events organized within the Women in Information Technology of Iasi, the speaker will suggest steps that could be taken by a similar group in University of Wolverhampton.