Just a little over forty years ago, on June 13, 1962, Victor Yngve,
David Hayes, Harry Josselson, Ida Rhodes, Paul Garvin, Winfred Lehman,
Richard See, Anthony Oettinger and Sydney Lamb met to establish the
Association for Machine Translation and Computational Linguistics
(AMTCL), which held its first Annual Meeting the following year.
These pioneers wished to "encourage high standards by sponsoring
meetings, publication and other exchange of information." The
Association changed its name, but not its goals or organization, in
1968 to the Association for Computational Linguistics.
The year July, 2001 through June, 2002 is thus the fortieth
anniversary year of the ACL, and two activities were initiated to
celebrate this appropriately.
Naturally, several ongoing projects continued to occupy the
- The ACL Anthology is a collection of all the publications associated
with ACL and COLING in the forty years of their work, including all
the ACL conference and workshop proceedings, back issues of
journals, COLING proceedings. Steven Bird proposed and then
organized this enormous undertaking, which will make the results of
computational linguistics research much more generally available.
There is a special section in the journal and publications section
of this report (below) on this project.
- The ACL Lifetime Achievement Award was suggested to me and Phil
Cohen by Erhard Hinrichs. The executive committee resolved to
present this award at most annually in recognition of scientific and
technical achievement. The recipient will be invited to speak on a
topic of his choice at the Annual Meeting. While the primary
motivation for establishing this award is to recognize the same
"high standards" our founders sought to encourage, we also hope that
the award will publicize our work in larger circles.
association throughout this period.
Finally, I note issues of importance which were not foci of attention
- The relation of the international organization to its regional
chapters has begun crystallizing even while it continues to occupy
us. Regional chapters host regional meetings and co-host
(international) ACL meetings held in their regions, and they share
in the financial risks and benefits of all those conferences. This
financial structure is now in place. In addition to hosting
meetings, chapters will also take (regional) education into their
portfolios, including the support of summer schools and the like.
In this vein the EACL has supported European Summer School in Logic,
Language and Information (ESSLLI) and NAACL cooperates with
the Johns Hopkins summer school.
- Asian researchers have introduced a new umbrella federation
of organizations in response to ACL's internationalization push.
This differs from the sort of chapter structure now in place in
Europe and North America, but Asian researchers do wish to host
international conferences regularly and to participate in the
- We continue to investigate greater financial autonomy for special
- The executive committee has begun investigating a fee structure
that would accommodate people that wished to attend only a single
satellite workshop at one of the annual meetings or chapter
- The conference handbook, initiated by Ed Hovy, is being extended and
maintained by the Association's secretary, Sandee Carberry, and it
is already streamlining many issues of planning, responsibility and
- The North American chapter has embarked on a course of collaboration
with the Human Language Conferences, originally sponsored by DARPA
in the 1980's. The report of the chapter chair, Diane Litman,
contains further details.
- We established mutual reductions membership rates for members of
ISCA who wish to join ACL (and vice versa) in an experiment to try
to involve more speech researchers in ACL.
The organization continues to be healthy in its membership numbers and
- Publicity and public awareness of Computational Linguistics.
Although recognized as valuable, public relations efforts inevitably
need to showcase individuals and their specific accomplishments.
ACL support for proposals has foundered in the past on the
reluctance of the executive committee to be involved with these
decisions, including the reluctance to delegate them to others.
This is clearly suboptimal, since it ends up leaving the ACL with
no systematic influence on publicity about the field.
- Industrial involvement. While the current conference guidelines
always foresee an applications track, designed to supersede the old
"Applied Natural Language Processing", industrial involvement seems
disproportionately low in the organization, meaning in particular
membership, participation at meetings, active support in the
its balance sheet, and for this we should be grateful to Treasurer
Kathy McCoy, and Office Manager Priscilla Rasmussen, who are now
complemented essentially by Association Secretary Sandee Carberry.
John Nerbonne, Groningen
ACL President, 2002