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ACL Awards

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.

Bill Woods receives the 2010 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award

A distinguished characteristic of Bill's research is that he developed powerful theories and formalisms as a solid scientific basis for his work. Bill's 1968 PhD thesis was one of the first devoted to natural language access to a large database, and included a number of computational semantic innovations.

Later on, Bill's distinctive contribution to the Lunar Project included the Augmented Transition Network (ATN) parser, which was the first properly formalized hand-built parser that could produce Chomsky-style deep structure analyses for a large, fluent subset of natural English. The ATN formalism incorporated a number of novel techniques that have been subsequently built upon (and repeatedly reinvented), and was accompanied by a pioneering "procedural semantics" mechanism. Another seminal innovation in which Bill was involved was the KL-One Knowledge Representation formalism, which was developed from Ron Brachman's Ph.D. thesis under Bill's supervision. KL-One was the first attempt at a properly formalized knowledge representation for NLP, including a number of innovations like early matching and unification algorithms. It was partly in response to Bill's important analysis of hitherto ad hoc semantic-net representations, presented in Bill's 1975 seminal paper "What's in a Link?".

2006 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award

Eva Hajicova: ACL Award Winner!

One of the highlights of COLING/ACL 2006 was the presentation of the 2006 ACL Lifetime Achievement Award to: Eva Hajicova

The following is an excerpt from the introduction made by Jun'ichi Tsujii (president of the ACL) at the COLING/ACL 2006 award ceremony.

I first met Eva, 26 years ago, at Coling in Tokyo, 1980.