Atila 2011

1-2 December 2011 / Antwerp, Hyllit Hotel

We are pleased to announce that this year's edition of Atila will be held in the exquisite Hyllit Hotel  in Antwerp on Thursday 1 and Friday 2 December 2011. Atila is the annual two-day research meeting for the members of the Computational Linguistics groups of the University of Antwerp (CLiPS), Ghent (LT3) and Tilburg (ILK). Our 2011 invited speaker will be Afra Alishahi (previously Universität des Saarlandes, now Tilburg University), who will present her work on Computational Psycholinguistics and Language Acquisition. A novelty this year be will our welcoming a number of newcomers from the University of Nijmegen, following Antal's recent move.

Invited Speaker

On Thurday 1 December, Dr. Afra Alishahi (previously Universität des Saarlandes, now Tilburg University) will give an invited talk about her recent work in Computational Psycholinguistics and Language Acquisition. Her talk is entitled:

A Bayesian account of the acquisition of abstract argument structure constructions

Abstract - Developing computational algorithms that capture the complex structure of natural languages is an open problem. In particular, learning the abstract properties of language only from usage data without built-inknowledge of language structure remains a challenge. We have developed a Bayesian model of the acquisition and use of verb argument structure from child-directed data. In our model, the general constructions of language (such as transitive and intransitive) are viewed as a probability distribution over the syntactic and semantic features, e.g., the semantic properties of the verb and its arguments, and their relative word order in an utterance. Constructions are learned through clustering similar verb usages. Language use, on the other hand, is modeled as a Bayesian prediction problem, where the missing features in a usage are predicted based on the available parts and the acquired constructions (e.g., in sentence production, the best syntactic pattern for an utterance is predicted from the available semantic information). The model can successfully learn the common constructions of language, and its behaviour shows similarities to actual child data, both in sentence production and comprehension. Moreover, the acquired knowledge of language in this model is robust yet flexible, and many general patterns of behaviour that are observed in children can be simulated and explained by this approach.


(Note: for all regular talks we anticipate a duration of 15 minutes, with 5 minutes for questions afterwards.)

*** The most recent schedule can be found below ***

[Download the Atila schedule in pdf-format, containing the speakers' abstracts.]

Thursday 1 December 2011

10.00-10.25: Arrival (and check-in) at Hyllit Hotel Antwerp (Seminar room: Sala Garibaldi - at the hotel's entrance, on your left-hand. Warm drinks provided.)

10.25-10.30: Welcome & introduction of Afra Alishahi (by Roser Morante)

10.30-11.30: Invited talk (chair: Roser Morante): A Bayesian account of the acquisition of abstract argument structure constructions (Afra Alishahi, invited speaker with 15 min. for questions)

11.30-12.30: Session 1 – Emotions (chair: Menno van Zaanen, 3 talks)

-       Final words: classifying emotions in suicide notes (Bart Desmet and Véronique Hoste)

-       Fine-grained emotion detection in suicide notes: Multi-label classification with probability estimates (Kim Luyckx, Frederik Vaassen, Claudia Peersman and Walter Daelemans)

-       Sentiment Analysis with Pattern 2 (Tom De Smedt and Walter Daelemans)

12.30-14.00: Lunch (in the Hyllit's breakfast hall)

14.00-15.00: Session 2 – Spelling (chair: Walter Daelemans, 3 talks)

-       Aligning divergent text versions with anagram hashing (Martin Reynaert)

-       The Chatty Corpus: a Gold Standard for Dutch Chat Normalization (Claudia Peersman, Mike Kestemont et al.)

-       Deceptive Language Analysis in Italian Criminal Proceedings (Tommaso Fornaciari)

15.00-15.30: Coffee break

15.30-17.00: Panel discussion between Antal van den Bosch, Véronique Hoste and Walter Daelemans (chair and moderator: Kim Luyckx)

18.00-19.30: Social activity

19.30u-21.00u: Evening dinner


Friday 2 December 2011

10.00-11.00: Session 3 – Classification (chair: Véronique Hoste, 3 talks)

-       Attempting to improve text classification performance using Error-Correcting Output Codes (Frederik Vaassen and Walter Daelemans)

-       Handling skewed data: Class division (Menno van Zaanen)

-       Applying domain similarity to unsupervised training data construction (Vincent van Asch and Walter Daelemans)

11.00-11.30: Coffee break

11.30-12.30: Session 4 – Networks (chair: Kim Luyckx, 3 talks)

-       Federated Search (Herman Stehouwer)

-       Discovering missing Wikipedia inter-language links by means of cross-lingual WSD (Els Lefever and Véronique Hoste)

-       Coreference resolution across different genres and the special case of bridge relations (Orphée De Clercq, Véronique Hoste and Iris Hendrickx)

12.30-14.00: Lunch (in the Hyllit's Gran Duca roof top restaurant)

14.00-15.00: Session 5 – Grammar (chair: Lieve Macken, 3 talks)

-       Grammar induction for assistive domestic vocal interfaces (Janneke van de Loo, Guy De Pauw and Walter Daelemans)

-       Evaluation of Sentence Simplification (Sander Wubben)

-       Degrees of entrenchment of multi-word units: variation between units and across speakers (Véronique Verhagen)

15.00-15.30: Coffee break

15.30-16.10: Session 6 – Miscellaneous (chair: Antal van den Bosch, 3 micro-talks of 10+ min.)

-        Something about Sonar (Martin Reynaert)

-        Something about Music (Menno van Zaanen)

-      Something about Lexan (Herman Stehouwer)


16.10-16.30: Farewell and announcements


The Hyllit is a marvellous hotel, located in the centre of Antwerp city, close to the central station. Click here for directions. Wifi access is provided throughout the hotel. Also note that you can make use of the swimming pool and sauna facilities during your stay, so that you might want to bring a bathing suit.

De Keyserlei 28-30
B-2018 Antwerp, Belgium
tel: +32 (0)3/202.68.00
tel: +32 (0)3/202.68.90

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  • Matje van de Camp
  • Afra Alishahi (invited speaker)
  • Antal van den Bosch
  • Maarten van Gompel
  • Sander Wubben
  • Martin Reynaert
  • Véronique Verhagen
  • Herman Stehouwer
  • Menno van Zaanen
  • Véronique Hoste
  • Orphée De Clercq
  • Bart Desmet
  • Klaar Vanopstal
  • Marjan Van de Kauter
  • Lieve Macken
  • Els Lefever
  • Bram Vandekerckhove
  • Vincent van Asch
  • Tom De Smedt
  • Janneke van de Loo
  • Frederik Vaassen
  • Walter Daelemans
  • Roser Morante
  • Kim Luyckx
  • Claudia Peersman
  •  Mike Kestemont


Please contact the local organizers {Claudia.Peersman, Mike.Kestemont}[at] for all practical information concerning Atila 2011. We would be glad to help you out.

atila2011_schedule.pdf97.41 KB