Speech and Language Processing: Where have we been and where are we going – Ken Church (AT&T Research Labs)
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Can we use the past to predict the future? Moore.s Law is a great example: performance doubles and prices halve approximately every 18 months. This trend has held up well to the test of time and is expected to continue for some time. Similar arguments can be found in speech demonstrating consistent progress over decades. Unfortunately, there are also cases where history repeats itself, as well as major dislocations, fundamental changes that invalidate fundamental assumptions. What will happen, for example, when petabytes become a commodity? Can demand keep up with supply? How much text and speech would it take to match this supply? Priorities will change. Search will become more important than coding and dictation.
I am the head of a data mining department in AT&T Labs-Research. I received my BS, Masters and PhD from MIT in computer science in 1978, 1980 and 1983, and immediately joined AT&T Bell Labs, where I have been ever since (though the name of the organization has changed). I have worked in many areas of computational linguistics including: acoustics, speech recognition, speech synthesis, OCR, phonetics, phonology, morphology, word-sense disambiguation, spelling correction, terminology, translation, lexicography, information retrieval, compression, language modeling and text analysis. I enjoy working with very large corpora such as the Associated Press newswire (1 million words per week). My datamining department is currently applying similar methods to much larger data sets such as telephone call detail (1-10 billion records per month).