CLIQ-ai (Computational Linguistics in Québec) brings together actors from academia and industry in Quebec whose collaboration advances technologies related to natural language processing.
The consortium covers 4 major research themes:
The first two themes aim at understanding the knowledge described in texts and formalize it in a model. The last two focus on general application scenarios where a user interacts with the system for different purposes, typically to satisfy some form of information need. While these themes are strongly connected, we form different sub-groups of researchers focusing on each of the themes.
The fields of data science and machine learning have evolved dramatically with the advent of deep neural networks, and it is now possible to solve problems that were insurmountable only a few years ago. Although computer vision and robotics are among the areas where progress has been most noticeable, a major milestone in language comprehension was achieved when in 2011 IBM defeated Jeopardy's top two human players. IBM has thus been able to convincingly demonstrate that when sufficient investment is made, a very high apparent comprehension of the language can be achieved. The growing capacity of systems like Siri and Google Home is testament to the rapid advancements in technology.
Natural language processing is a growing field at the intersection of linguistics, artificial intelligence and machine learning. It covers issues such as machine translation, answering questions, synthesizing text, finding information and, very broadly, the phenomenon of dialogue agents, or chatbots. Although the progress of NLP has been impressive in recent years, it is generally accepted that general understanding of the language is one of the most difficult tasks one can try to accomplish. It can also be argued that a complete mastery of this problem would equate to strong AI.
The Consortium's goal is to significantly increase NLP capacity in Quebec and help materialize new technologies with our industrial partners. It will also be used to create corpora and tools specific to French Canadian. It will serve as a catalyst to strengthen and mobilize core NLP research clusters in Quebec around an ambitious research project. The objective will be achieved thanks to the synergy created by joining forces between university researchers and more than a dozen industrial partners working in this field. This association of numerous and talented researchers will also drive important international collaborations with several major NLP research institutes. The growing interest of Quebec organizations to develop and apply new knowledge in NLP and to finance research and development of highly qualified personnel in this field will lead to the creation of a sustainable inter-university research center of international stature in NLP.