Natural Language and AI

The Special Interest Group Natural Language and AI covers all aspects of computational linguistics (CL) and natural language processing (NLP), their applications to technology, as well as connections to cognitive modelling and psychology.


Understanding and processing human language

Understanding and processing human language is one of the central problems in Artificial Intelligence. Alan Turing famously based his test of machine intelligence on the indistinguishability between a human and a machine in using linguistic communication. Indeed, the dream of computers being able to speak and understand language might be as old as computers themselves.

Methods and approaches 

Modern natural language processing systems synthesise research from the fields of computer science and linguistics, making use of algorithmic methods, complexity theory and machine learning, as well as grammars and notions of syntactic, semantic and discourse structures to capture the systematicity in linguistic data.

This SIG welcomes all activities in the area of computational approaches to language processing. In keeping with Utrecht University’s strengths in human-centered and explainable AI, we have a particular interest in supporting approaches that use linguistic knowledge (in the form of theoretically grounded models, and grammars and other structured models) in combination with data-driven, statistical or neural methods.


Examples of topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Rich computational grammars and parsing
  • Computational models of semantics, pragmatics, and discourse processing
  • Natural Language understanding (possibly in combination with work in the SIG on Knowledge Representation and Reasoning)
  • Natural Language generation
  • Ethics in NLP
  • Widening NLP (languages and dialects other than English)
  • Computational modelling of psycholinguistic data (possibly in combination with work in the SIG on Social and Cognitive Modelling)
  • Applying NLP techniques to data science and digital humanities (possibly in combination with other focus areas)


Research groups associated with the SIG: 

Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Science


Activities in the realm of the SIG can include seminars, workshops, invited researchers, and grant writing collaborations. A bi-yearly call for activity proposals will be distributed UU-wide, and a selection of them will receive financial support.

If you would like to discuss an idea for a SIG activity, please contact the coordinator Tejaswini Deoskar.