Natural Language Understanding (NLU) is a subfield of linguistics, computer science, and artificial intelligence concerned with the interactions between computers and human (natural) languages, in particular how to program computers to process and analyze large amounts of natural language data.
NLU is used in a variety of applications, such as automated question answering, information retrieval, machine translation, and text analytics.
NLU as a subfield of Linguistics or Computer Science
There is some debate as to whether NLU and related terms (e.g., natural language processing, or NLP) should be considered a subfield of linguistics or computer science. Some scholars argue that NLU is primarily concerned with the computational aspects of language and thus falls under the umbrella of computer science. Others contend that NLU cannot be divorced from its linguistic roots and should be considered a subfield of linguistics.
Regardless of how NLU is classified, there is no doubt that it relies heavily on both linguistic and computational techniques. In fact, the interdisciplinary nature of NLU is one of its key strengths. By combining the insights of linguists and computer scientists, NLU can make significant progress in understanding and processing natural language data.
NLU vs. NLP vs. NLG
Natural Language Understanding is sometimes confused with other terms, such as natural language processing (NLP) and natural language generation (NLG). However, there are important differences between these terms. Natural language processing is primarily concerned with the computational aspects of language, while natural language understanding is concerned with the interpretation of language. Natural language generation is concerned with the production of language, whereas natural language understanding is concerned with the interpretation of language. In short, NLU is focused on understanding language, while NLP and NLG are focused on processing and generating language, respectively.
Importance of Natural Language Understanding
- Natural Language Understanding is an important tool for text analytics. Text analytics is the process of extracting meaning from text data in order to make business decisions. NLU can be used to identify the sentiment of a text, to determine the topic of a document, or to find entities mentioned in a text. By understanding the meaning of text data, businesses can make more informed decisions about their products, services, and marketing campaigns.
- NLU is also becoming increasingly important for voice-based applications, such as voice assistants and chatbots. These applications rely on NLU to interpret the user’s utterances and generate an appropriate response. As more and more businesses adopt voice-based applications, NLU will become an essential part of doing business.
Natural Language Understanding is a rapidly growing field with many exciting applications. With the help of NLU, businesses can gain insights from text data, and developers can build more intelligent voice-based applications. As NLU continues to evolve, we can expect even more exciting developments in the field.