Automated systems that interact with human users via spoken and written communication will greatly enhance their usability and our productivity. These systems will act as on- and off-ramps to the information superhighway, allowing friendly access to services. The convenience provided by these systems is essential to other tasks, such as for handicapped users or for effectively accessing very large and unstructured databases such as the World Wide Web. Some other applications are conversion of phone mail to text, transcription of radio or TV programs or of telephone conversations, information retrieval, automatic translation from one language to another and computer assisted learning of new languages.
Unfortunately, in many respects, current technology is inadequate for the tasks at hand. For instance, automatic recognition of natural conversational speech has a 30% error rate. Mechanical translation of technical manuals results in confusing and ungrammatical instructions. Even parsing of sentences of newspaper articles, while it has improved a lot, leads to faulty analysis of over 50% of the sentences attempted.
There is need to make progress is this important field. The number of available personnel trained in the field is small and solutions to long-standing research problems must be found. At this time, relatively few universities educate students capable of performing the required tasks.
We are organizing a six-week workshop on Language Engineering at Johns Hopkins University from July 10, 2006 to August 18, 2006, in which mixed teams of leading professionals and students will fully cooperate to advance the state of the art. The professionals are university professors and industrial and governmental researchers presently working in widely dispersed locations. Eight undergraduates have been selected through a nationwide search from the current junior class based on outstanding academic promise. Graduate students familiar with the field have been selected in accordance with their demonstrated performance.
The Opening Day Program begins at 9:00 AM on July 10, 2006 on the JHU Homewood Campus. The program is open to the public. A detailed agenda for WS06 Opening Day will soon be available. Speakers on Opening Day will include government sponsors and personnel, team leaders, and technical and administrative personnel. The program usually lasts until 12:00 noon.
The Closing Day Program will be held on August 17, 2006. The program is open to the public. A detailed agenda for WS06 Closing Day Program should be available by the beginning of August. The Closing Day Program allows the teams to present their progress and results to the language and speech community. The program runs from 9:00 AM to about 4:30 PM.
There will be several guest lecturers over the workshop period. All lectures will be held on the Homewood Campus. Exact locations will vary. Please check the workshop calendar for information. Details on the speakers, titles, and abstracts will be posted as information becomes available.
The workshop site is at Barton Hall on the Johns Hopkins Homewood Campus. The laboratory is Shaffer 100.