The evolution of computational linguistics and where it’s headed next

Natural language processing is a key part of the artificial intelligence revolution. Credit: Stefani Billings

Earlier this year, Christopher Manning, a Stanford professor of computer science and of linguistics, was named the Thomas M. Siebel Professor in Machine Learning, thanks to a gift from the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation.


Manning specializes in – designing computer algorithms that can understand and sentiment in written and spoken and respond intelligently. His work is closely tied to the sort of voice-activated systems found in smartphones and in online applications that translate text between human languages. He relies on an offshoot of known as to design algorithms that can teach themselves to understand meaning and adapt to new or evolving uses of language.

Siebel, a pioneer in numerous areas of information technology and known for his ability to see and understand emerging trends in computer science and beyond, has long held an interest in precisely this kind of work. “AI and machine learning change everything about computing. Advances in natural language processing change everything about human-computer interaction, and Professor Manning’s innovative natural language processing research is making some of those advancements possible,” said Siebel, CEO of C3 IoT.

We spoke to Manning recently about his lifetime pursuit that is only now starting to gain wider public awareness.

How do you explain your work to a complete stranger?

My focus is on natural language processing, otherwise known as computational linguistics. It’s getting computer systems to respond intelligently to textual material and human languages. I focus on what the words mean. If you say something to Google…

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