The Natural Language Processing community has seen unprecedented growth in recent years (see for instance the ACL 2019 Chairs blog). As more people are entering the field and NLP research sprouts in more places, making meaningful connections and communicating effectively becomes more difficult.
To successfully scale our conferences, we require structures that enable us to integrate and to provide mentorship and advice to the next generation of researchers and engineers. In addition, we are in need of mechanisms that facilitate collaboration and the exchange of ideas in our community.
Conferences such as NAACL 2019 have been fostering initiatives that encourage diversity and inclusion, such as mentoring, childcare, and live captions. In addition, meetups with demographic affinity groups (WiNLP, Queer in AI, Black in AI, etc.) and venues such as “birds-of-a-feather” tables facilitate meeting like-minded people.
Beyond the global exchange of information and ideas in the field, we believe that an effective way to foster such connections is on the regional level, to connect newcomers with experts in their vicinity and with each other. In order to keep the global community vital and healthy, we need to ensure that local talent is able to flourish and that role models and mentors are available to provide inspiration and feedback.
Europe has a vibrant and world-leading NLP community, with research hubs across the continent and positioned both in academia and industry. The aim of EurNLP (pronounced “your NLP”) is to bring our community closer together. We want to provide an informal focused get-together event to foster discussion and collaboration between researchers in and around Europe. EurNLP is supported by EACL and aimed to be complementary to scientific publication-oriented European events. It is also intended to be complementary to summer schools that are focused on educating the next generation and can now be found all around the globe, including Africa, South America, Southeast Asia, and Europe.
EurNLP is inspired by the highly successful West Coast NLP Summit (WeCNLP). In contrast to a purely scientific symposium, EurNLP is an industry-academia partnership and hosted in cooperation with companies. In order to grow the European NLP community and solve real-world problems our society is facing, we must bridge academia and industry and connect fundamental and applied research.
The first European NLP summit will take place in London on October 11, 2019. The registration for EurNLP is open now. Thanks to our industrial host Facebook and sponsorship from DeepMind, registration is not only free, but there are also travel grants available to students with an accepted abstract.
—The EurNLP Organisation Committee (Barbara Plank, Sebastian Ruder, Sebastian Riedel, Armand Joulin, Fabrizio Silvestri)