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Robert L. Mercer receives the 2014 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award

Bob Mercer and colleagues forcefully demonstrated the power of big data approaches to language problems, decades before the term “big data” was invented, and at a time when computers were orders of magnitude less powerful, and big data work was difficult and slow to do, even at one of the world’s premier technology companies. But the impact of their work was revolutionary: The probabilistic approaches to computational linguistics that Bob and colleagues pioneered now dominate the field of machine translation, and provide the underpinning of many of the tools that people now regularly use, such as speech recognizers on mobile phones, context-sensitive spelling correction, and web-based machine translation systems.

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