Knowledge-leveraged Computational Thinking through Natural Language Processing and Statistical Logic

NII Shonan Meeting:

@ Shonan Village Center, Sep. 19-21, 2011

NII Shonan Meeting Report (ISSN 2186-7437):No. 2011-4


  • Akihiro Yamamoto, Kyoto University, Japan
  • Kentaro Inui, Tohoku University, Japan
  • Sadao Kurohashi, Kyoto University, Japan
  • Sebastian Riedel, University of Massachusetts, USA (candidate)



A long-standing problem in Natural Language Processing has been a lack of large-scale knowledge for computers. The emergence of the Web and the rapid increase of information on the Web drastically changed the environment of NLP. The Web is not only a marvelous target for NLP, but also a valuable resource from which knowledge could be extracted for computers, making research and development activities on large-scale text processing and large-scale knowledge acquisition much more popular.

However, beyond the success of large-scale NLP and knowledge acquisition, we are starting to face a new problem: how to manage and use the automatically acquired knowledge. We are still not confident that automatically acquired large-scale knowledge resources will indeed solve NLP problems in real world applications How to incorporate the acquired knowledge into existing NLP frameworks and how to manage them are yet unsolved issues.

Based on this background, the workshop introduces the new research field of Computational Thinking, where computers themselves directly make use of the large-scale knowledge on the Web by combining natural language processing and statistical logical inference. In natural language processing, we need robust structuring of text, making advances in discourse analysis, zero pronoun resolution, and syntactic and semantic parsing. In addition, to handle the uncertainty and ambiguity inherent in language and in automatically acquired knowledge, we also have to construct a theory and system of inductive knowledge derivation, allowing us to carry out statistical inductive logic computation on a massive scale.

Based on these advances, we can develop a high-dimension statistical induction framework that finds links in the useful knowledge represented in language, and by doing so, construct a knowledge analysis engine that goes beyond mere search, effectively harnessing the entire Web knowledge space.

The aim of the workshop is to bring researchers and practitioners together in order to discuss Knowledge-leveraged Computational Thinking. Possible topics of the workshop include, but are not limited to:

– Construction of large corpora and sharable large resources

– Knowledge-leveraged robust structuring of text

– Bootstrapping knowledge acquisition from very large corpora

– Framework of very-large-scale statistical logic

– Inductive knowledge derivation and distillation

– Knowledge-based information access, analysis, and organization



  1. Some people often get lost in buildings like libraries, hospitals, conference centers, and shopping malls. I’m working on a paper in which I present an integrative framework derived from established research in spatial cognition that encompasses and inter-relates three factors that contribute to wayfinding difficulties: the spatial structure of the building, the cognitive map that users construct for explored environments, and the strategies and individual differences of the users.
    Good luck with your research!

  2. Gary Geunbae Lee

    thanks i think the seminar was very intensive and also interdisciplinary
    between logic and language, so it
    was very fruitful. i would like to participate in the future meeting again.

  3. Rafael E. Banchs

    I have found the NII Shonan workshop on Knowledge-leveraged
    Computational Thinking to be both inspirational and formative in the
    interesting areas of computational linguistics and thinking. I have
    also had the opportunity to meet first class researchers from around
    the world, and also enjoyed the facilities.

  4. Yusuke Miyao

    I very much enjoyed the talks and the discussions with excellent
    researchers, who I would not have had a chance to meet without this
    opportunity. We could not have enough time in the last day due to a
    typhoon, but I believe this means we should have this kind of meeting
    again in the near future.

  5. Takehito Utsuro

    It is a great honor to join such a stimulative meeting where NLP guys
    and logic oriented people discussed near future relation of NLP and
    logic. It gave me many findings; e.g., what logical inference is to be
    in NLP and its major difference compared to conventional classifier
    learning. I think that most NLP people agree that for more than a decade
    corpus-based statistical approaches have been mostly dominant in
    NLP. But, at this meeting, I had a feeling that research field around
    NLP may drastically change for the first time since corpus-based
    statistical approaches became dominant in NLP.

  6. Pedro Domingos

    I found the meeting very timely, interesting and useful.

  7. The NII Shonan workshop on Knowledge-leveraged Computational Thinking was a very interesting and useful event, addressing both foundational and current topics. We should have more of such events.

  8. Robert Kowalski

    I was very impressed by the talks presenting the progress and
    potential of combining logic and statistical approaches to natural
    language processing, for the purpose of extracting meaningful
    information from large volumes of text on the web. On the other hand,
    I was surprised to hear relatively little mention of the semantic web
    as an alternative and more popular way of achieving the same
    goal. However, after attending the seminar, I conclude that the
    natural language route is potentially the more promising approach, and
    that the benefits to society will be enormous. I suspect that these
    potential benefits may be realized much sooner than many experts
    anticipate. I would like to thank the organizers and other
    participants at the seminar for giving me the opportunity to learn
    about these exciting developments.