The fundamental issue underlying natural language understanding is that of semantics – there is a need to move toward understanding natural language at an appropriate level of abstraction in order to support natural language understanding and communication with computers.
Machine Learning has become ubiquitous in our attempt to induce semantic representations of natural language and support decisions that depend on it; however, while we have made significant progress over the last few years, it has focused on classification tasks for which we have large amounts of annotated data. Supporting high level decisions that depend on natural language understanding is still beyond our capabilities, partly since most of these tasks are very sparse and generating supervision signals for it does not scale.
I will discuss some of the challenges underlying reasoning – making natural language understanding decisions that depend on multiple, interdependent, models, and exemplify it using the domain of Reasoning about Time, as it is expressed in natural language.
This lecture satisfies requirements for CSCI 591: Research Colloquium.