1 Introduction

In this chapter you will:

  • Learn what Natural Language Processing (NLP) is about and why you should know about it
  • Learn to recognize classical NLP tasks and applications in practice
  • Learn how machines represent words and understand their meaning

This is a book about Natural Language Processing (or NLP), 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 high chance you have heard about it before, especially in the recent years when the news about the impressive capabilities of intelligent machines that can now understand and produce natural language have started appearing even in daily newspapers. This is what has brought NLP into the spotlight, and what might have attracted you to this book. So 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 in Practice!

1.1       A brief history of NLP

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