2010Q3 Reports: SIGNLL

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ACL SIGNLL Annual Report (2009-2010)

by Joakim Nivre and Lluís Màrquez

The goals of SIGNLL, ACL's special interest group on natural language learning, are to promote and inform about research on computational modeling of learning in natural language. These are served by (i) the maintenance of an informative and up-to-date website and associated mailing list, and (ii) the organization of annual events (the CoNLL conference and the CoNLL shared task), and support of other related activities.

The web-pages, located at URL http://www.aclweb.org/signll/ and maintained by Erik Tjong Kim Sang, remain an important source of information, complemented by an email list for announcements for SIGNLL-related events. On the web-site, links can be found to relevant associations, networks, research cooperations, research departments, groups, institutes, mailing lists, archives, journals, bulletins, conference reports, online papers (including all papers of all CoNLL proceedings), online courses and slides, bibliographies, software, corpora, companies, meta-information sources, etc.

Currently, SIGNLL has 326 members, with ~22 new registrations in 2009. An election for SIGNLL officers was organized after the summer of 2009. New president is Joakim Nivre (Uppsala University, Sweden) and secretary Lluís Màrquez (Technical University of Catalonia, Spain). The current office period runs from November 1, 2009 to October 31, 2011. Our Information Officer remains Erik Tjong Kim Sang.

Apart from the officers, SIGNLL also has two consultative committees. The SIGNLL Steering Committee, composed by all past SIGNLL officers: Antal van den Bosch, Claire Cardie, Walter Daelemans, Hwee Tou Ng, David Powers, and Dan Roth; and the larger SIGNLL International Advisory Board (see http://ifarm.nl/signll/about/#officers, for a complete description of SIGNLL officers and boards). David Yarowsky acts as the SIGDAT Liaison Representative.


The Fourteenth SIGNLL Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning, CoNLL-2010, will be held in Uppsala, Sweden, 15-16 July 2010, in conjunction with ACL 2010. Program co-chairs are Anoop Sarkar and Mirella Lapata. The special topic of interest of the 2010 edition is Grammar Induction, including varied perspectives (machine learning, natural language engineering and cognitive approaches) and aiming at integrating works form several areas of research (statistical methods, pattern recognition, neural networks, computational linguistics, computational learning theory, automata theory, and language acquisition).

CoNLL 2010 received 99 submissions, of which 18 were eventually withdrawn. Of the remaining 81 papers, 12 were selected to appear in the conference programme as oral presentations, and 13 were chosen as posters. The invited speakers are Lillian Lee (Cornell University) and Zoubin Gharamani (University of Cambridge) and their talks will cover knowledge-lean information extraction and Bayesian HMMs, respectively.

As in 2009, the CoNLL-2010 best paper award is sponsored by Google. More information can be found at the conference website: http://www.cnts.ua.ac.be/conll2010/.

CoNLL-2010 Shared Task

As in previous years, CoNLL-2010 has a shared task, "Learning to detect hedges and their scope in natural language text". The shared task is completely new and was selected from a set of 4 proposals submitted to the SIGNLL call for shared tasks in September 2009. It addresses the detection of uncertainty in two domains, using the BioScope corpus (biological scientific articles) and the public Wikipedia weasel annotations. Two uncertainty detection tasks were proposed: 1) detecting sentences containing uncertainty, and 2) resolving the in-sentence scope of hedge cues. A total of 23 teams have participated in the shared task, which can be considered a real success, given the novelty of the topic. Those who participated in both tasks were invited to write a 8 page paper. The page limit for those who participated only in the first task was 6 pages. The Shared Task papers are collected into an accompanying volume of CoNLL-2010.

The task maintains its own website where all the details (including datasets and results) can be found at: http://www.inf.u-szeged.hu/rgai/conll2010st.

Other Activities

  • SIGNLL is also endorsing the Workshop "Negation and Speculation in Natural Language Processing (NeSpNLP 2010)", organized by Roser Morante and Caroline Sporleder. The workshop will be held next July in Uppsala, just before the ACL 2010 events. Workshop website: http://www.clips.ua.ac.be/NeSpNLP2010/index.html.
  • In July-August 2010, SIGNLL will launch a call for shared task proposals to select the task to be run in CoNLL-2011. A designated committee will judge the submitted proposals and declare the selected task no later than October 2010.