Keynote talks by

We are really glad to announce that two eminent speakers have agreed to deliver talks at our event.


Dr. Preslav Nakov, Senior Scientist, Qatar Computing Research Institute

Brif Bio: Preslav Nakov is a Senior Scientist at the Qatar Computing Research Institute, HBKU. His primary research interests include computational linguistics, machine translation, lexical semantics, Web as a corpus, and biomedical text processing.

Dr. Nakov co-authored a Morgan & Claypool book on Semantic Relations between Nominals, two books on computer algorithms, and over a 100 research papers. He received the Young Researcher Award at RANLP'2011. He was also the first to receive the Bulgarian President's John Atanasoff award, named after the inventer of the first automatic electronic digital computer.

Dr. Nakov is an Associate Editor of the AI Communications journal, and a member of the SIGLEX board. He co-chaired SemEval'2014, SemEval'2015, and SemEval'2016, and co-organized several SemEval tasks, e.g., on sentiment analysis on Twitter, on semantic relation extraction, on the semantics of noun compounds, and on community question answering.

Dr. Nakov received a PhD degree in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley, and he has a MSc degree form the Sofia University. He was a Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore, a honorary lecturer in the Sofia University, and a research staff in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Nakov will be talking on

Sentiment Analysis on Twitter: a SemEval Perspective

Internet has democratized content creation leading to the rise of social media and to an explosion in the availability of short informal text messages. Microblogs such as Twitter, weblogs such as LiveJournal, social networks such as Facebook, and instant messengers such as Skype and Whatsapp are now commonly used to share thoughts and opinions about anything in the surrounding world. This proliferation of social media content has created new opportunities for studying public opinion, with Twitter being especially popular for research purposes due to its scale, representativeness, variety of topics discussed, as well as ease of public access to its messages.

I will present the evolution of a semantic analysis task that lies at the intersection of two very trendy lines of research in contemporary computational linguistics: (i) sentiment analysis, and (ii) natural language processing of social media text.

The task was part of SemEval (the International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation, a semantic evaluation forum previously known as SensEval), and it ran in 2013, 2014, and 2015, attracting the highest number of participating teams at SemEval in all three years; there is an ongoing edition in 2016. The task included the creation of a large contextual and message-level polarity corpus consisting of tweets, SMS messages, LiveJournal messages, and a special test set of sarcastic tweets. The evaluation attracted 44 teams in 2013, 46 in 2014, and 41 in 2015, which used a variety of approaches. The best teams were able to outperform several baselines by sizable margins with improvements over the years.

The task has fostered the creation of some freely-available, and by now widely used, resources such as NRC's Hashtag Sentiment lexicon and the Sentiment140 lexicon, which the NRC-Canada team initially developed for their participation in SemEval-2013 task 2, and which were key for their winning the competition.

The 2015 and 2016 editions of the task switched focus to sentiment with respect to a topic, on a positive/negative/neutral (2015) or on a five-point scale (2016). The latter is used for human review ratings on popular websites such as Amazon, TripAdvisor, Yelp, etc. From a research perspective, moving to an ordered five-point scale means moving from classification to ordinal regression.

Another shift in 2015 was from sentiment towards a topic in a single tweet to sentiment towards a topic in a set of tweets (trend detection). This represents a move from classification to quantification. In real-world applications, the focus often is not on the sentiment of a particular tweet, but rather on the percentage of tweets that are positive/negative. In 2016, trend detection will be also offered on a five-point scale, which gets us even closer to what business (e.g., marketing studies), and researchers, (e.g., in political science or public policy), want nowadays. From a research perspective, this is a problem of ordinal quantification.

I will introduce the above subtasks in detail, and I will explain the process of creating the training and the testing datasets. I will briefly describe some of the participating systems, and the overall results, in comparison with a number of baselines. Special attention will be paid to the lessons learned with analysis across a number of dimensions such as progress over the years, performance on out-of-domain data, utility of context in the contextual polarity task, impact of training data size, of using external resources, of negation handling, etc. Finally, I will compare the task to other related tasks at SemEval and beyond.

Prof. Vasudev Verma

Brif Bio: Prof. Verma is now Professor and the Dean (Research & Development) at IIIT Hyderabad, India. His research Interests are in the broad areas of Information Retrieval, Extraction and Access. More specifically: social media analysis, cross language information access, summarization and semantic search. He also works in the areas of Cloud Computing and Reuse in Software Engineering.

He is also the CEO of IIIT Hyderabad Foundation, which runs one of the largest technology incubators in India. The Foundation manages IIIT-H’s IP and technology transfers.

He has co-founded SETU Software Systems Pvt Ltd. SETU’s product, Veooz, is Social signal based content discovery platform with social media search and analysis capabilities

Dr. Verma will be talking on

Dealing with Noise in Social Media Data

Social media has become a very good proxy for the real world. In many domains, the opinions and sentiments expressed in social media capture the pulse of people in the society. Thus, we are increasingly able to rely on the voices of the people in the social media to form opinions and take actions. We are able to discover the content that is interesting and important using social signals. However there are inherent challenges in mining social media data. In this talk, I will focus specifically on social media noise at the surface level and at contextual level. I will elaborate on Sentiment Expression Axis that ranges from literal expressions to smileys to sarcasm to spam and various sub problems in dealing with social media noise. I will describe our recent work in mining named entities and extracting knowledge from social data.