For Immediate Release
June 25, 2007
Contacts: Lee Tune, 301 405 4679 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Maryland Lab to Advance Revolution in Language Tech. for U.S.
The Johns Hopkins University and the University of Maryland will collaborate on a new U.S.-funded language technology center of excellence -- an advanced laboratory to harness revolutionary developments in the machine analysis of text and speech. The goal is to develop a new generation of software that can help the federal government quickly cull and analyze the daily influx of multilingual materials.
The new Human Language Technology Center of Excellence will be based at Hopkins' Homewood campus in Baltimore and draw on the expertise of both schools. The U.S. Department of Defense is providing long-term funding of at least $48.4 million.
The creation of the new Center signals the growing maturity of language technology, according to the researchers. The revolutionary advances involve sophisticated software able to comb materials for key information, make preliminary judgments about its significance and then flag potentially important items for human attention.
"The government is facing a massive information overload," says Gary W. Strong, the Center's executive director. "We need a better way to sort, filter and call attention to important material buried within enormous amounts of multilingual data being produced every day in other nations."
Revolution in Language Technology
Over the next decade, the Center will develop and refine software incorporating a wide spectrum of tools for analyzing text and speech from multi-lingual sources.
"There's a revolution in language technology," says Amy Weinberg, a University of Maryland linguist and computer scientist who will work at the new Center. "We're getting much better at making machines smart enough to help people rapidly judge what's significant in a message. Decades of work in several independent fields have begun to converge, and we can now start to build even more sophisticated software."
The advances in language technology, Weinberg adds, enable machines to make increasingly sophisticated judgments about a text's or a broadcast's authenticity, accuracy, truthfulness, intent, authority, etc. These inferences become crucial in deciding whether to flag a message for human attention.
Washington-Baltimore Axis of Language Expertise
The Human Language Technology Center of Excellence will build on decades of complementary expertise developed by both universities, with each able to turn to several existing research centers, including Hopkins' Center for Language and Speech Processing and the University of Maryland's Institute for Advanced Computer Studies.
"There's a formidable axis of language expertise that runs through Maryland from Washington, D.C., to Baltimore," says Melvin Bernstein, the University of Maryland vice president for research, who will oversee the school's participation in the new Center. "Because of this concentration of expertise, this is a natural spot for an interdisciplinary laboratory of this kind."
Both teams are experienced at working in multi-lingual contexts, adds Bernstein. Hopkins has exceptional strength in developing software capable of processing materials involving speech, while Maryland excels at software that analyzes text by accessing a broad range of information sources that help provide context and answer questions.
"The interface between language and technology is simply too complex for a narrow perspective," says C. D. Mote, Jr., president of the University of Maryland. "Integrating diverse technologies is facilitated by interdisciplinary teams. For a project of this magnitude, we will draw on our expertise in linguistics, information science, neuro-biology, computer science and software design."
Language at Maryland
The University of Maryland has made intensive research and innovative instruction in critical foreign languages an institutional priority. As part of this long-term commitment, the university is creating a series of research centers investigating the nation's foreign language needs using a broad, interdisciplinary approach. It has also launched national model education programs that stress high-level proficiency in the acquisition of critical languages.
Information provided by the Office of University Communications
Email University Communications at email@example.com