AI Conference Recap: Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Others at ACL

AI Conference Recap: Facebook, Google,  Microsoft, and Others at ACL

At the recent Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), research teams from several tech companies, including Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and Salesforce presented nearly 200 papers out of a total of 779 on a wide variety of AI topics related to Natural Language Processing (NLP).

At the recent Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), research teams from several tech companies, including FacebookGoogleMicrosoftAmazon, and Salesforce presented nearly 200 papers out of a total of 779 on a wide variety of AI topics related to Natural Language Processing (NLP).

The conference was held online in early July and featured a keynote from Amazon Scholar Kathleen R. McKeown. In addition to workshops and tutorials on NLP topics, AI researchers from business and academia presented 779 papers describing their latest work. Prominent tech companies were well represented by their AI researchers: Microsoft contributed 56 papers, including one awarded Best PaperFacebook 32, Google 31, IBM 20, Amazon 17, and Salesforce 9.

The ACL conference is the "premier conference of the field of computational linguistics." This year's event, the 58th meeting, was slated to be held from July 5th through July 10th in Seattle, Washington; however, due to global pandemic concerns, it became a completely virtual event. This year's conference theme was "Taking Stock of Where We’ve Been and Where We’re Going," inviting papers reflecting on 60 years of progress in NLP. Following this theme, Amazon Scholar Kathleen R. McKeown gave a keynote address titled "Rewriting the Past: Assessing the Field through the Lens of Language Generation," in which she showed clips from interviews with experts in the field about the past, present, and future directions of NLP.

The event's format was similar to most academic conferences and featured 779 presentations of research papers from 25 different NLP areas, 8 NLP tutorials, and 19 workshops---small, focused "sub-conferences" usually lasting a single day. This year's conference had a record number of paper submissions: 3,429, which is more than double the number submitted just two years ago, and the USA and China accounted for over 60% of the submissions. The acceptance rate was about 25%, in line with recent years.

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