ACL 2016: The 54th Annual Meeting

The Association of Computational Linguistics (ACL) is the largest Natural Language Processing (NLP) annual meeting among other NLP conferences such as EACL, EMNLP, and NAACL. The main conference took place in the heart of Germany, Berlin, at the Humboldt University between the 8th and the 10th of August. Other in-conjunction events, 8 tutorials and 15 NLP workshops, took place on the 7th, 11th and 12th of August as well. 

The event was massive with over 1,000 participants from academia and industry coming from all parts of the world. Major conference tracks include all the new on machine learning for NLP, machine translation, parsing, sentiment analysis, word embedding and meaning, generation, summarization, phonology and morphology.  

I presented my first paper in the student research workshop titled "Arabizi Identification from Twitter Data" which is part of my PhD line of research. I am looking into Arabizi, a language popular on social media in the Arab region, where users express their natural dialectal Arabic mother tongue in text without following any unified orthography. As a first step we created an approach to identify this language from within multilingual streams of textual data. Next, we will try to apply lexicon-based method to extract sentiment from Arabizi. Apart from being very dialectal and lacking a unified orthography, Arabizi is often discarded by the Arabic NLP due to the lack of resources to process the data such as lexicons, parsers, and stemmers. I was delighted to meet and receive good inputs from students and professors who were interested in our work especially the ones who specialize in Arabic NLP, in other words people who I knew only by their names. 

Getting involved in the ACL community has a unique taste, the taste of languages, the stem of motivation for my research discipline; you don’t get to discuss morphology, inflection, diacritization, phonology, transcription, and pronunciation for several languages everyday with a group of inter-cultural NLP intellects over dinner or on a boat in Berlin! 

The ACL organization has done a great job in making this event happen. I am enthused to present a paper from my research in the main ACL conference next year!

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