Category Archives: Seminars 2018

RGCL Research Seminar March 2018

For our latest Research Seminar on the 7th March we welcomed Hanna Bechara, PhD student, over from Dublin. Her talk on her thesis was well attended and prompted interesting questions from the group.

TITLE: Semantic Textual Similarity and its Application in Evaluation


Semantic Textual Similarity measures the degree of semantic equivalence between two sentences or phrases. Similarity measures between sentences are required in a wide variety of NLP applications, such as information retrieval, automatic text summarisation. Our work investigates the applications of semantic textual similarity in evaluation. We focus specifically on the evaluation of machine translation and automatic text simplification. By using methods previously employed in Semantic Textual Similarity (STS) tasks, we use semantically similar sentences and their quality scores as features to estimate the quality of machine translated sentences. Our results show that this method can improve the prediction of machine translation quality for semantically similar sentences. We apply the semantic similarity methods to evaluate the output of automatically simplified text. We find that our features are strong indicators for quality. On the Shared Task on Quality Assessment for Text Simplification (QATS), our classification systems ranked second overall among all participating systems and consistently outperformed the baseline for all types of quality measures.

Our next seminar will be given by Reshmi Gopalakrishna Pillai on Detection of strength and casual agents of stress and relaxation in social media content. This will be from13:00 on the 19th March in MU402, all are welcome and we look forward to seeing you there.


Dr. Aline Villavicencio to visit from the University of Essex

Dr. Aline Villavicencio from the University of Essex (UK) and Federal university of Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil) is visiting RGCL in April. She will be giving a talk on Identifying Idiomatic Language with Distributional Semantic Models on the 19th April 2018, abstract below. If you are interested in attending the talk please contact for more details.

Identifying Idiomatic Language with Distributional Semantic Models
Precise natural language understanding requires adequate treatments both of single words and of larger units. However, expressions like compound nouns may display idiomaticity, and while a police car is a car used by the police, a loan shark is not a fish that can be borrowed. Therefore it is important to identify which expressions are idiomatic, and which are not, as the latter can be interpreted from a combination of the meanings of their component words while the former cannot. In this talk I discuss the ability of distributional semantic models (DSMs) to capture idiomaticity in compounds, by means of a large-scale multilingual evaluation of DSMs in French and English. A total of 816 DSMs were constructed in 2,856 evaluations. The results obtained show a high correlation with human judgments about compound idiomaticity  (Spearman’s ρ=.82 in one dataset), indicating that these models are able to successfully detect idiomaticity.