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(July 28, 2003)

Hitoshi Isahara (Publicity Chair, CRL) and Masaki Murata (CRL)

ACL2003 was successful with the number of participants reaching around 650. We would like to express our gratitude for your cooperation and interest in the conference.

This news letter includes:

1) Remarks from Chairs

1-1) General Chair

1-2) Local Organizing Chair

2) Award

2-1) Lifetime Achievement Award

2-2) Best Paper Award

3) Number of Participants

4) Information on ACL'04

1) Remarks from Chairs

1-1) General Chair

To be the General Chair of a major conference like ACL is exciting and stimulating as well as honourable.

Nevertheless, I encountered an additional and unexpected difficulty in organizing the conference this year: the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). SARS has affected many conferences in this region resulting in many of them being cancelled. The uncertainty over how SARS will develop has put a lot of stress on all the people involved in ACL03, and in particular, on the local organizing committee chaired by Kenji Araki.

However, although we had to cope with the mental stress caused by the outbreak of the epidemic, it has also given us the opportunity of appreciating the fact that we belong to a community of researchers who share common interests and beliefs, care for each other and are willing to help. We have received numerous messages of encouragement from our scientific community, which helped us tremendously in preparing this conference. My special thanks go to the researchers from the affected regions who have been extremely helpful while we were discussing the possible measures to be implemented in order to make the conference safe. I believe that it has strengthened our mutual understanding and belief in the good intentions of other researchers in our community.

ACL03 at Sapporo was the second in Asia, following the successful conference (ACL00) in Hong Kong. Since then, the interest in Computational Linguistics (CL) and Natural Language Processing (NLP) had increased substantially both in our region and throughout the world.

I am pleased to announce that we have attracted a record-breaking number of paper submissions for the main conference, 360 papers, out of which 71 were selected by the program committee. ACL03 was certainly one of the most competitive conferences this year.

At the same time, it was the largest conference in the fields of CL and NLP ever held in Asia. It attracted around 650 participants from all over the world, and around 250 papers were presented altogether at the main conference, the student research workshop, the poster/demo sessions, and 11 workshops including two associated conferences (EMNLP and IRAL).

The success of ACL03 is due to the tremendous efforts and good-wills of all those who were involved in organizing the conference. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to those who helped in numerous ways to produce this high quality conference. Last but not the least, I would like to express my thanks to all who submitted their work to ACL03 and who attended the conference.

I hope all the participants enjoyed ACL03 at Sapporo and we will meet again at ACL04 at Barcelona, Spain.

Jun-ichi Tsujii
ACL-2003 General Chair
25, July, 2003

1-2) Local Organizing Chair

First of all, as the local organizing chair, I would like to express my sincere appreciation to all of you for your participation in ACL 2003.

The following is an outline of ACL 2003:

The number of main conference attendees as of July 8th was 584 and the number of workshop and associated conference attendees was 574. There were two associated conferences and nine workshops in total. The number of attendees for the four tutorials that were held was 308. Therefore, the total number of attendees is estimated to have been approximately 629. Although we had originally estimated that the number of attendees would only total 450 at the most due to the SARS situation, we were pleasantly surprised to learn that 620 people attended ACL 2003.

In addition, we received numerous grants for ACL 2003. These grants include those from the Kayamori Foundation, the Support Center for Advanced Telecommunications Technology Research, the Inoue Foundation and the City of Sapporo. Special thanks to the following industrial sponsors : Microsoft Corporation, Justsystem Corporation, NTT Corporation, OKI Electric Industry Co., Ltd., Fuji Xerox Co., Ltd., IBM Japan, Ltd., Hokuto System Co., Ltd., FUJITSU LIMITED, TOSHIBA Corporation, NEC Corporation, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd., Hitachi Limited and LanA Consulting. We are truly thankful for each and every one of these grants.

Also, as I am sure you are aware, an industrial exhibition was held for the first time at ACL 2003. The industrial exhibition consisted of nine company exhibitions and 21 university and national research center exhibitions, thus there was a total of 30 exhibitions. We would like to express our deepest appreciation to all of the exhibitors.

I am truly pleased that ACL 2003 succeeded beyond our expectations in spite of the SARS epidemic. This success was no doubt due to the enthusiasm of all of the chairs, staff members and attendees.

In closing, I would like to once again thank everyone involved in ACL 2003 for making it such a tremendous success.

Kenji Araki
ACL-2003 Local Organizing Chair

2) Award

2-1) Lifetime Achievement Award

ACL Lifetime Achievement Award Winner:

Dr. Makoto Nagao (The 23rd President of Kyoto University)

Introduction about LTA winner

Prof. Nagao graduated from Kyoto University in 1959, attended graduate school at Kyoto until 1961, then joined Kyoto University as an assistant professor. He became a professor of Kyoto University in 1973. He is now the president of Kyoto University.

Although he has worked on an extremely wide variety of topics such as image analysis and understanding, I'd like to focus on three major contributions of his to natural language processing here. They are (1) machine translation, (2) linguistic technology for working with languages like Japanese, and (3) digital libraries.

If I were to list all of the major contributions Prof. Nagao has made to machine translation we'd be here all afternoon, so I'll just mention three of his major contributions to MT here.

Prof. Nagao was instrumental in the Mu project for machine translation. This was a transfer-model-based machine translation system developed between 1982 and 1986 that translated abstracts of technical papers in the natural sciences. It was the first successful MT system between two languages having a radically different syntactic structure, namely English and Japanese.

Second, Prof. Nagao proposed and was a strong proponent of example-based MT in the early 80's. Since then example-based MT has been a central research topic in MT, and ATR (Japan) (which he was central in the organization of) uses example-based MT in their MT system.

Third, Prof. Nagao has contributed service to the field in ways to numerous to list. To name just one, he was instrumental in the creation of the International Association of Machine Translation (IAMT), and served as its first president.

Leaving Machine Translation and turning to the field of linguistic tools for analyzing languages like Japanese, I'd like to note two major contributions Prof. Nagao has made in this area.

In early 90's, Prof. Nagao developed the Japanese morphological analyzer named JUAMN, which is the first combination of segmenter and morphological analyzer for a morphologically agglutinative language with an orthography that doesn't mark word boundaries reliably. He showed that in Japanese it is advantageous to perform word segmentation, morphological analysis and POS tagging at the same time. JUAMN's accuracy was 95%, and it spurred the development of numerous other systems based on the same principles, some of which now achieve up to 98% accuracy.

Prof. Nagao also developed a dependency-based syntactic parser called KNP that is especially appropriate for free word languages such as Japanese.

Turning to digital libraries, Prof. Nagao has personally conducted and coordinated some of the most important digital library research in Japan. The Adriadne system, which he was instrumental in developing, has influenced the research and development of digital libraries in Japan and throughout the world. He made significant technical contributions in areas such as inter- and intra-content indexing of documents that exploits NLP technology that will be dear to most of our hearts. He has also made significant suggestions regarding the social and legal framework in which documents are manipulated and shared, addressing issues such as copyright, electronic books, publishers and education.

For reason's of time I've had to skip over many of Prof. Nagao's scientific contributions to the field, and most of his service to government, academia and science in general.

We're not the first organization to recognize Prof. Nagao's contributions. In 1993 he was awarded the IEEE Emanuel R. Piore Award, in 1997 he received Medal of Honor from the International Association for Machine Translation, and in 1997 he received the Purple Ribbon Medal from Japanese Prime Minister's Office, to name just a few of the awards he has received. I hope he'll proudly display the Life-Time Achievement Award from the Association for Computational Linguistics together with the other impressive awards he has already received.

Ladies and gentlemen, colleagues and fellow members, please join me in congratulating Prof. Nagao for receiving the highest honour that the Association for Computational Linguistics can bestow: the Lifetime Achievement Award.

Mark Johnson
ACL President
June 2003

2-2) Best Paper Award

Best Paper Award Winners:

Accurate Unlexicalized Parsing
Dan Klein and Christopher D. Manning

Towards a Model of Face-to-Face Grounding
Yukiko Nakano, Gabe Reinstein, Tom Stocky, and Justine Cassell

3) Number of Participants

Total number of participants: 629

Main conference: 584

Workshop-Only: 45

Tutorials: 308

T1: 48

T2: 109

T3: 101

T4: 50

Associated Conferences: 206

A1 EMNLP: 148

A2 IRAL: 58

Workshops: 368

W1 MLSUM: 60

W2 NLBIO: 53


W4 MLNER: 37

W5 IWP: 63


W7 MWEXP: 45



T1: Finite State Language Processing
T2: Maximum Entropy Models, Conditional Estimation, and Optimization without the Magic
T3: Knowledge Discovery from Text
T4: Spoken Language Processing: Separating Science Fact from Science Fiction

(This report was prepared as of July 8th.)

4) Information on ACL'04

ACL'04 will be held in Barcelona from July 21st to 26th, 2004. The conference will form part of the Forum of Cultures that will be taking place in Barcelona over the summer of 2004. The Forum will include not only scientific events such as the ACL conference, but an exciting cultural programme of music, theatre, dance and art exhibitions, to which ACL attendees will have access.

ACL'04 will be hosted by a committee composed of computational linguists from several institutions in Barcelona, chaired by Prof Toni Badia of University Pompeu Fabra. The technical chairs are:

Conference Chair:

Donia Scott

Programme Chairs:

Walter Daelemans and Marilyn Walker

Tutorial Chair:

Inderjeet Mani

Workshop Chair:

Srinivas Bangalore

Demos Chairs:

Philippe Blache and Horacio Rodriques

Publications Chairs:

Owen Rambow, Sergi Balari, Sadao Kurohashi

Publicity Chair:

Felisa Verdejo

Exhibition Chair:

Toni Marti

The search for sponsorship chair(s) is still on; volunteers or nominations are welcome!

For more information, please consult the conference website at