RGCL Anniversary Highlights, Day 20

Published on Sep, 2 2022 by RGCL.

The Oxford Handbook of Computational Linguistics (First Edition)

Almost 25 years ago – around the time that RGCL was established – the Head of the Group, Prof Ruslan Mitkov, embarked on another very ambitious project. He had received an invitation from John Davey at Oxford University Press to submit a proposal for an Oxford Handbook of Computational Linguistics, and in June 1998, his proposal was accepted. It wasn’t until 2002 that all of the contributors’ proofs were received and finalised, leading to a hardback publication in 2003. A paperback version was published in 2005.

Handbook cover
The cover of the first edition of the Oxford Handbook of Computational Linguistics

This first edition of the Handbook contained 38 chapters, commissioned from experts all over the world, describing major concepts, processes, methods, and applications in computational linguistics. Part I, Linguistic Fundamentals, provided an overview of the field suitable for senior undergraduates and non-specialists from other fields of linguistics and related disciplines. Part II described current tasks, techniques, and tools in Natural Language Processing and aimed to meet the needs of post-doctoral workers and others embarking on computational language research, while Part III surveyed current applications.

Handbook Part I
The Handbook contained three parts, and featured such influential scholars as Ronald Kaplan, Patrick Hanks, Geoffrey Leech, Harold Somers and Ed Hovy, to name a few

The book was then a state-of-the-art reference to the one of the most active and productive fields in linguistics, which, as we know, has only continued to grow exponentially. It received favourable reviews from a range of users, from students and scholars to NLP practitioners. Peter Jackson, then vice-president of Thomson Legal & Regulatory, described the Handbook as “an impressive volume that demonstrates just how far the field has progressed in the last decade.” Other reviewers have described it as “comprehensive”, “excellent” and “well written”, a “recent review of the whole field”. It became a major and influential publication in the field of Computational Linguistics, and in 2011 a Chinese edition was produced.

John Davey, who sadly died in 2017, hailed the volume as OUP’s most successful handbook of all time.


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