Natural Language Processing, a fulfilled promise?

Inaugural lecture: Professor Farid Meziane

In 1950, Alan Turing defined his famous test known as the imitation game. The test consists of evaluating natural language conversations generated by a machine and seeing if a human can distinguish between these and those produced by a human expert. This probably led to the huge interest in not only making computers understand natural languages but also generating them. This field is known as Natural Language Processing (NLP). Today we are able to talk to our phones, generate texts and sounds and have conversations with chatbots.

Professor Farid Meziane's lecture took us through the bumpy journey of NLP development over the last eighty years and the different contributions that were made by him. The first work introduced was the use of NLP to understand software user requirements to produce formal specifications in the Vienna Development Method (VDM). In the late eighties and early nineties, the Prolog programming language provided the foundations for the implementation of Chomsky’s theory on transformational grammar. Ontologies then came to provide a much-needed conceptual framework for many applications of NLP. Some examples of Meziane's work that involved the use of ontologies were introduced. There are many linguistic theories that have been used to improve NLP such as the Rhetorical Structure Theory. This was used in understanding radiology reports and producing structured forms. As in many other areas, deep learning had a big impact on the development of NLP. The work on the development of an English-Arabic machine translation system using deep learning was also introduced.

Inaugural Lecture Series: Professor Farid Meziane

View Inaugural Lecture Series: Professor Farid Meziane video transcript

Professor Farid Meziane

Professor Farid Meziane obtained his PhD in Computer Science at the University of Salford for his work on producing formal specifications from English user requirements. He passed his PhD without corrections. He joined the University of Salford as a lecturer in 1998 where he spent the next 22 years. He was promoted to Professor in 2012 and held senior positions such as Associate Dean for International Development and head of the informatics research centre. He joined the University of Derby in 2020 as the head of the data science research centre. He is the university lead for the data science stream.