In the spring of 2009, Gertjan van Noord is visiting the University of Malta. The purpose of the visit is to teach a course for the Erasmus Mundus European Masters Program in Language and Communication Technologies. The title of the course is Finite State Machinery and Computational Morphology. In addition, van Noord participates in the supervision of a Master's thesis on a bilingual question answering system for Bangla and English. Finally, van Noord gives an invited lecture in the Articifial Intelligence seminar, entitled Parsing to improve parsing, about self-training techniques to improve parsing accuracy.
Malta is a small island (actually the country is made up of a few islands including Malta, Gozo and Comino), but it has a very high population density (over 1200 inhabitants per square kilometer), and slightly less than 400,000 inhabitants in total. Malta is a member of the European Union, which it joined in 2004. As of January 1, 2008, Malta adopted the euro as the country's currency. The University of Malta is the only university of Malta. There are some 10,000 students. The university is located close to the capital Valletta.
Both Informatiekunde at the University of Groningen and Artificial Intelligence at the University of Malta participate in the European Masters Program in Language and Communication Technologies. This program is designed to meet the demands of industry and research in a rapidly growing area. It provides students with profound knowledge and insight into the various disciplines that contribute to the methods of language and communication technologies and it strengthens their ability to work according to scientific methods. Moreover, the students acquire practice-oriented knowledge by choosing appropriate combinations of modules in Language Technology, Computational and Theoretical Linguistics, and Computer Science.
The course tought by van Noord onstitutes an introduction to finite-state language processing. Finite-state techniques have been used extensively in language research. For instance, it has been shown that phonological models consisting of sets of context-sensitive rewrite-rules are, given some reasonable assumptions, finite-state. More recently, a similar result has been obtained for more modern phonological models expressed in Optimality Theory. In linguistic applications the use of finite-state techniques is very wide-spread, and includes applications in tokenization, lexicography, spell checking, part-of-speech tagging, speech recognition, phonology, morphology and syntax.
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