1 Introduction


This chapter covers

  • Introduction to Natural Language Processing, a history of the field, and why you should know about it
  • Classic NLP tasks and applications in practice
  • Ways machines represent words and understand their meaning

Natural Language Processing (or NLP) is a field that addresses various approaches in which computers can deal with natural, that is human, language. Regardless of your occupation or background, there is a good chance you have heard about it before, especially in the recent years when the news about the impressive capabilities of intelligent machines that can understand and produce natural language have started appearing in media. This is what has brought NLP into the spotlight, and what might have attracted you to this book. You might be a programmer who would like to learn new skills, a machine learning or data science practitioner who realized there is a lot of potential in processing natural language, or you might be generally interested in how language works and how to process it automatically. Either way, welcome to NLP! This book aims to help you get started with it.

1.1 A brief history of NLP

1.2 Typical tasks

1.2.1 Information search

1.2.2 Advanced Information Search: Asking the machine precise questions

1.2.3 Conversational agents and Intelligent virtual assistants

1.2.4 Text prediction and Language generation

1.2.5 Spam filtering

1.2.6 Machine translation

1.2.7 Spell- and grammar checking

1.3 Summary

1.4 Solutions to exercises