Experts meet to enhance Arabic language for IT

January 16, 2011 - 9:58:09 pm

DOHA: Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development is presently hosting 20 renowned scientists to discuss how its recently formed Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) can take a proactive role in enhancing Arabic natural language processing technologies.

Participants hail from nine different countries around the world and include leading academics from Qatar University, Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar, Columbia University (USA), Sorbonne University (France) and Dublin University (Ireland), as well as representatives from global giants such as Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and IBM.

QCRI initiated the expert roundtable to identify areas in computational research where QCRI can take an important niche role; by listing the expertise required to address the problem, for example, crafting methods for better data acquisition, or identifying synergies with external partners.

Arabic has traditionally been an oral language which presents challenges in the application of language technologies. For this reason, the technologies are not as far advanced as they are for other languages, such as English, French or Japanese. Efficient communication technologies for the Arabic language will provide support for the Arabic business sector, and for other areas such as administration and culture. Improved technology tools for Arabic will also provide the digital platform required to export Arabic products, ideas and culture to the rest of the world.

“The future of the Arabic language is digital and QCRI is seeking to leverage these technologies to keep Arabic alive and well in the digital world,” said Dr Ahmed Elmagarmid, Executive Director of QCRI.

“This roundtable brings together thought leaders from academia and industry whose unique perspectives will help identify the most beneficial line of research for QCRI to pursue.”

Participants in the two-day conference will also explore how publications, patents, and technology can be used to maintain Arabic as a leading language and identify ways to build robust and fruitful collaboration with industrial and academic research communities.

The panel’s collective expertise mirrors the QCRI’s interdisciplinary approach, which brings together leading researchers in the areas of machine translation, language analysis, database acquisition and data mining and other key areas to unlock human potential. Qatar Foundation established QCRI in August 2010 as part of a wider initiative to create specialised research institutes that would benefit not just Qatar but the wider world.

The Peninsula

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