2009Q3 Reports: SIGNLL

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ACL SIGNLL Annual Report (2008-2009)

The goals of SIGNLL, ACL's special interest group on natural language learning, are to promote and inform about research on computational modeling of learning in natural language. These are served by (i) the maintenance of an informative and up-to-date website and associated mailing list, and (ii) the organization of annual events (the CoNLL conference and the CoNLL shared task), and support of other related activities.

The web-pages, located at URL http://www.aclweb.org/signll/ and maintained by Erik Tjong Kim Sang, remain an important source of information, complemented by an email list for announcements for SIGNLL-related events. On the web-site, links can be found to relevant associations, networks, research cooperations, research departments, groups, institutes, mailing lists, archives, journals, bulletins, conference reports, online papers (including all papers of all CoNLL proceedings), online courses and slides, bibliographies, software, corpora, companies, meta-information sources, etc.

Currently, SIGNLL has 304 members, with ~20 new registrations in 2009. Current SIGNLL officers are Lluís Màrquez (President), Joakim Nivre (Secretary), and Erik Tjong Kim Sang (Information Officer). The SIGNLL Steering Committee is composed by Antal van den Bosch, Claire Cardie, Walter Daelemans, Hwee Tou Ng, David Powers, and Dan Roth. SIGNLL also has a larger international Advisory Board (see http://ifarm.nl/signll/about/#officers for a complete description of SIGNLL officers and boards). David Yarowsky acts as the SIGDAT Liaison Representative.

Main activities during the 2008-2009 period

  • The Thirteenth SIGNLL Conference on Computational Natural Language Learning, CoNLL-2009, was held in Boulder, Colorado, 4-5 June 2009, in conjunction with NAACL-HLT. Program chairs were Suzanne Stevenson and Xavier Carreras. The special topic of interest was on unsupervised, minimally supervised and semi-supervised methods in natural language learning, as well as on incremental learning methods. From the 70 submissions received, 15 were selected to appear in the conference program as oral presentations, and 10 were chosen as posters. The invited speakers, Michael Frank and Andrew McCallum, reflected the state-of-the-art in human and machine learning of natural language. The CoNLL-2009 best paper award was sponsored by Google. More information can be found at the conference website http://www.cnts.ua.ac.be/conll2009/
  • The CoNLL-2009 shared task (Syntactic and Semantic Dependencies in Multiple Languages) focused, for the second time, on the joint learning of syntactic and semantic dependencies. This is an extension of the CoNLL-2008 shared task to multiple languages (English plus Catalan, Chinese, Czech, German, Japanese and Spanish). Among the new features are compatible evaluation for several languages and their comparison, and learning curves for languages with large datasets. The task was organized by a large team, leaded by Jan Hajic (as general chair) and Massimiliano Ciaramita (as publication and PC chair). The call attracted over 60 teams, out of which 20 submitted results and 18 presented a system description paper. The Shared Task papers are collected into an accompanying volume of CoNLL-2009. The task maintains its own website, http://ufal.mff.cuni.cz/conll2009-st, where all the details (including results) can be found.
  • As an indicator of the impact of the CoNLL conference (and its associated shared task) in the research community, we are glad to report that CoNLL was ranked 17th out of 701 (top 3%) on a list of Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning/Robotics/Human Computer Interaction conferences (http://www.cs-conference-ranking.org/conferencerankings/topicsii.html)
  • SIGNLL has expressed the preference for organizing CoNLL-2010 as a co-located event with ACL-2010 in Uppsala, Sweden. Following the agreement with SIGDAT and ACL, the preferences for CoNLL-2010 have precedence over EMNLP-2010.
  • In July-August 2009, SIGNLL will launch a call for shared task proposals to select the task to be run in CoNLL-2010. A designated committee will judge the submitted proposals and declare the selected task no later than October 2009.


This autumn, on November 1, the two-year term of current SIGNLL officers will end. According to SIGNLL's constitution, we have started the procedure for the new elections. The period for collecting nominations began in late June and will last until September 30, 2009. Lluís Màrquez (Technical University of Catalonia) and Joakim Nivre (Uppsala University) have declared their willingness to continue for a second term but switching positions so that Joakim would be president and Lluís secretary. If there are multiple nominees at the end of this period for either or both offices, elections will be held starting on October 1. Votes for nominees will be collected until October 31, after which the majority of votes will determine who will be president and secretary from November 1, 2009.

The schedule for the elections is currently on time. No delays are expected.

Lluís Màrquez Joakim Nivre July 3, 2009