Simple NLP – Preface

Simple NLP – 0

Author: Jerry Li

Hi there! This is the introduction. Click HERE to jump to the first chapter.




There are tons of news floating around on AI these days. Indeed, it has become a trend to associate any company, product, or even YouTube idols with Machine Learning or some sort of AI. And yet there seems to be a gap between the general public and the AI or Machine Learning field that to some extent help build the frenzy yet mysterious atmosphere around the field.

AI in the past AI now
HAL9000 AI

While it is good to see my friends interested in AI one way or another, I remember just as clearly people (including myself) complaining that AI does not make sense. For researchers, scientists, and engineers, that comment may be about artificial neural nets, a Machine Learning model inspired by neural biology. For others, it is often about the field in general. Yes, AI nowadays can (finally) learn things from data, but not much effort went into explaining in a language that anyone can understand what AI can or cannot learn and why.

I hope to fill in the knowledge gap between the public and people doing cutting edge work in research or industry. This series of blogs are intended for people with interest in Machine Learning and/or AI, but don’t want to spend 4+ years in college or the whole weekend taking online courses on the subject. No prior experience in Math, Computer Science, or Linguistics is needed. However, it is not intended to prepare you for working in the field. I chose to omit most technical stuff to make the reading easy to understand. My intention is that after you’ve read the blog, hopefully you can say “Ha, I know a little bit more about how Siri works now!”.

I choose Natural Language Processing (NLP) as the topic for this series, both because of my personal interest and because it is probably one of the most common piece of AI people use daily. NLP is a field of research on interaction between computers and human natural languages Like English, Spanish, Hindi, etc. (Sadly, C++ and Python do not count, but they will when machines finally take over the world as Elon Musk has predicted. Muwhahaha…) You’ve likely heard of or used personal assistants on smart phones like Google Now and Siri. If you have learned a foreign language or travel abroad, you probably have used translation software. Even something as simple as word counter in Microsoft Word uses NLP technology. (Counting number of words or sentences is not trivial even in English, in which words are usually separated by space.)

Here are some topics I am planning to talk about (not necessarily in order):

  • History of NLP
  • Linguistics (the fun part at least)
  • Latest development in research and industry
  • Deep (and shallow) Learning in NLP
  • Other NLP Applications
  • Other topics you are interested in


I would not call myself an expert in the field and there will likely be mistakes I’ve made in writing my blogs. If you’ve found one, please feel free to let me know. Also, if you have any suggestions/questions/concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out! All writers like feedbacks from their readers.

One last thing, feel free to repost this series to elsewhere if you like it. Just citing the author would be enough. Thanks!

Image sources:


Kizuna Ai



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