Natural Language Processing (NLP) 2023 seeks to develop machines that comprehend and respond to speech or text data. They can respond using either speech or text of their own like humans.

What is natural language processing?

Natural processing of language (NLP) is an area of computer science and, more specifically, the area of artificial intelligence, also known as AI that focuses on providing computers with the ability to read spoken words and text similar to how humans can.

In the world of NLP, there is a huge multi-front battle between machine learning and deep learning models. We have seen applications of NLP in areas such as speech recognition, natural language understanding, and translation.

Together, these technologies allow computers to analyze human language as data in the form of text or voice and to comprehend the full meaning of it, in complete agreement with the writer or speaker’s intentions and feelings.

NLP tasks

Human language is full of inconsistencies that make it difficult to design software that can accurately identify the meaning intended by speech or text. Homonyms, homophones and sarcasm and idioms, metaphors, grammar and usage issues as well as variations in sentence structure are only a few peculiarities of the human language that require many years to master however, programmers have to help natural language-driven programs be able to recognize and comprehend accurately at the very beginning to ensure that the applications are intended to be successful.

A variety of NLP tasks are designed to break down human speech and text details in ways that can help the computer understand the data its ingestion. The tasks that are included include:

  • Speech recognition often referred to as speech-to-text is the job of efficiently converting voice data into text. Speech recognition is required by any program that responds to the voice command or responds to spoken questions. The thing that makes speech recognition particularly difficult is the way that people speak–quickly, blurring words, various emphasis and intonation in various accents, and frequently using wrong grammar.
  • Part of speech Tagging also known as Grammatical tagging is the method of determining the type of speech of a certain phrase or text by analyzing its usage and context. Part of speech distinguishes ‘make” as a verb in the phrase ‘I could make an airplane using paper as well as a noun in ‘What model of automobile do you have What makes of car do you own?
  • Word-sense disambiguation is the choice of what is the significance of a word that has multiple meanings, using a method of semantic analysis. This determines which word makes sense in the particular context. For instance, word sense disambiguation aids in determining from the verb ‘make”‘ in the context of ‘make it’ (achieve) vs. “make a bet” (place).
  • Named Entity Recognition, or NEM is a method of identifying the words or phrases that are useful entities. NEM recognizes ‘Kentucky’ as an area or location, and ‘Fred’ as a name of a man.
  • Resolving co-references is the job of determining if and how two words are referring to the same person or entity. The most popular instance is to determine the person or object to whom an individual pronoun refers (e.g.”she” is a synonym for Mary’), but it could also be a matter of the identification of a metaphor or idiom that is in the words (e.g. for instance, an example where ‘bear’ doesn’t refer to an animal, but rather a huge hairy human).
  • Sentiment analysis attempts to extract subjective qualities–attitudes, emotions, sarcasm, confusion, suspicion–from the text.
  • The process of creating natural language is often described as an alternative to speech recognition or speech-to-text It’s the process of translating structured information into human speech.

NLP techniques and methods

Python along with Python and the Natural Language Toolkit (NLTK)

The Python programming language comes with an array of tools and libraries that can be used to tackle particular NLP tasks. Many of them can be found inside the Natural Language Toolkit, or NLTK which is an open-source collection of libraries, software, and educational resources for developing NLP programs.

The NLTK contains libraries for many aspects of NLP tasks mentioned above, in addition to libraries for subtasks for example, sentence parsing stemming and word segmentation, lemmatization (methods of reducing words to their source) as well as tokenization (for breaking sentences, phrases paragraphs, paragraphs and passages into tokens that aid computers better understand the text). There are also libraries to implement capabilities like semantic reasoning, which is the ability to draw logical conclusions from information gleaned from the text.

Machine learning, statistical NLP, and deep learning

The first NLP applications were hand-coded rules-based systems that were able to perform specific NLP functions, yet could not quickly scale up to handle the seemingly endless number of exceptions or the ever-growing volume of voice and text data. Related articles here.

NLP uses

The natural processing of language is the primary engine for machine intelligence in a variety of contemporary real-world applications. Here are a few instances:

  • spam detection you might not consider spam detection to be an NLP solution however the top methods for detecting spam utilizes NLP’s ability to classify text to look through emails for any language that is often indicative of fraud or spam. This could include the use of terms that are financial, negative grammar, threatening language, or urgency that is inappropriate and misspelled company names and many more. Spam detection is just one of the few NLP issues that experts say are “mostly solved” (although it is possible to think that this isn’t a good fit with the experience you have with emails).
  • Translation by machine: Google Translate is an example of the widely-available NLP technology working. The most effective machine translation is more than just replacing words from one language with words in different. The effective translation must precisely capture the tone and meaning of the language being used and translate it into words that have the same meaning, and the desired effect in the final language. Machine translators are making steady advancements in precision. An excellent way for testing any translation software is by translating text in one language and then returning it to the source language. A well-known classic example In the past it was translated as ” The spirit is eager, but there is no flesh” from English to Russian and back, yielded ” The vodka is delicious, however, the flesh is decaying.” In the present, the outcome will be ” The spirit desires yet that flesh has no strength,” which isn’t ideal, but gives greater confidence for the English-to-Russian translation.
  • Chatbots and virtual agents: Virtual agents like Siri from Apple Siri as well Amazon’s Alexa make use of speech recognition to detect certain patterns that are present in spoken commands as well as natural language generation, and respond to the appropriate actions or remarks. Chatbots also perform the same function when they receive text entries. The most effective of them can recognize clues in the context of human behavior and then use them to give even better answers or choices as time passes. The next enhancement for these applications is a question answering, the ability to respond to our questions–anticipated or not–with relevant and helpful answers in their own words.
  • Social sentiment analysis of media: NLP has become an indispensable business tool to discover hidden information on social media platforms. Sentiment analysis is a way to analyze the text that is used in social media posts reviews, responses, and more to discover emotional responses and attitudes to advertisements, products, and other events. This information can be used by companies to apply to advertisements, designs for products, and other advertising campaigns.
  • Text summarizationText summarization makes use of NLP methods to digest massive volumes of text from digital sources and produces summaries and synopses to be used in research databases, indexes, or readers. The most efficient text summarization programs make use of semantic reasoning and natural language generation (NLG) to provide useful contextual information and draw conclusions from summaries.