About Natural Language Processing

Natural Language Processing or NLP for short is a field of computer science, artificial intelligence (AI) and computational linguistics concerned with the interactions between computers and human natural language.  It’s a relatively new field and a “hot” area in technology today. Read some more about it from our Data Science instructor, Lesley Cordero. Byte Academy offers a Natural Language Processing mini-course for those who would like to study this area.

What is the significance of Natural Language Processing?

Natural Language Processing (NLP) applications can be useful and informative.  The area has a lot of growing to do, making it all that more exciting right now. It’s a core part of data mining in education, medical sciences, and so many other fields. When you think about how much data exists in text form – facebook posts, tweets, medical evaluations, essays, articles, google searches, and so much more, you quickly realize how much NLP can encompass.

What are the obstacles for the computer to process natural language?

Put shortly, ambiguity is the core obstacle of natural language processing. Unlike code where there’s a specific structure which you must abide by, the rules of grammar and language are much more open to interpretation. The same text can be interpreted differently depending on semantics, tone, culture (dialect) and other variables, so it’s hard to generalize based off the text alone.

And that’s assuming you even use the same language. There are hundreds of languages in the world, making the problem of processing natural languages even tougher.

Ambiguity and Data Inconsistency are undoubtedly the hardest challenges in Natural Language Processing.

How can machine learning or deep learning most likely advance natural language processing in the future?

Firstly, I want to clarify that lots of Natural Language Processing algorithms are based on machine learning techniques, so you don’t necessarily have to think of them as entirely separate fields. With that said, the intersection of deep learning and natural language processing is very much up and coming. Word2Vec is a booming topic right now and provides an in-depth understanding of how the two (DL & NLP) influence each other.

If you’re interested in learning more, I recommend the following readings:

  1. Implementing a CNN for Text Classification
  2. Deep or Shallow: NLP is Breaking Out
  3. Attention & Memory in Deep Learning & NLP


Liked what you read? Follow Lesley Cordero on Quora for more insights on Data Science, Machine Learning, and Python.


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