8 January 2021

The University of Copenhagen establishes a dedicated NLP research section


In recent years, the University of Copenhagen’s Department of Computer Science (DIKU) has become one of the top places for Natural Language Processing research in Europe. This is now reflected by starting a dedicated NLP research section.

Members of the new NLP section at DIKU

The Department of Computer Science (DIKU) has grown at a rapid pace over the last years, especially in the number of researchers in the Machine Learning field. One reason is the expansion of the Natural Language Processing field (NLP) internationally and also at DIKU in terms of researchers, publications, grants, and courses.

As a result, the group of researchers within the field of NLP at DIKU has now become its own section embracing core as well as emerging topics in natural language processing, natural language understanding, computational linguistics, and multi-modal language processing.

The new section is headed by Associate Professor Isabelle Augenstein who was awarded a Sapere Aude Research Leader grant from the Independent Research Fund Denmark last year. 

- Our department is already one of the frontrunners in NLP, as, e.g., evidenced by our performance in international rankings. Having a dedicated section on NLP, as other strong universities such as Stanford University, the University of Edinburgh or the University of Melbourne do, will further help us increase international visibility, says Isabelle Augenstein.

In CSRankings, NLP at the University of Copenhagen as a whole is ranked 5th in Europe in the period 2010-2020. However, looking at the last three years from 2017-2020, the University of Copenhagen has climbed up the ladder and is now ranked 2nd in Europe. And at the end of 2020, a total of 15 papers by the new section’s researchers were accepted at the prestigious EMNLP conference.

High interest from industry

DIKU’s NLP researchers have won a multitude of grants from DFF, EU, and private funders and companies in recent years including large, prestigious fellowships. This shows a high and every-increasing interest from industry.

- Our section is currently collaborating with industry partners in a variety of areas, from those whose main business case relies on NLP, such as content moderation or dialogue systems, to those who can derive value from using NLP for decision support, e.g. in the legal, medical or educational domain, says Isabelle Augenstein.

She continues:

- In the last decade, the performance of NLP tools has increased so much that they are now on par with human performance for certain tasks, making their downstream application very attractive. Still, there is much research left to do, especially for challenging settings where the task is difficult or data is scarce.

The other faculty members of the new section are Anders Søgaard (Full Professor), Desmond Elliott (Tenure-Track Assistant Professor), and Daniel Hershcovich (Tenure-Track Assistant Professor).

The new section also currently includes 11 postdocs, 15 PhD students, 10 visitors, and 7 postdoc and PhD positions to be filled within the next few months.