Category Archives: Events

Master’s Evening, Dec. 01 2015

Master’s Evening 1 december 2015

On Tuesday 1 December 2015 you can visit our Master’s Evening where you can get informed about most of our Master’s degree programmes during information sessions. Please register and choose which of these sessions you would like to attend.

Date: Tuesday 1 December 2015
Time: 17:00 – 20:30
For whom: Higher education students and professionals
Location: Main building VU Amsterdam, De Boelelaan 1105, 1081 HV Amsterdam

Please find information on our Research Master Specialization ‘Linguistic Engineering’

If you are not able to attend our Master’s Evening on 1 December 2015, you can visit the Master’s Day on Saturday 12 March 2016 or find out more about VU Amsterdam and our study programmes:
• Find your international Master’s degree programme and contact the coordinator for questions
Meet VU Amsterdam representatives in your own country
Visit our international students Facebook

Press release VU University on NewsReader: Join the hackathon!

VU-hoogleraar en Spinozawinnaar Piek Vossen presenteert NewsReader
Ontdek ook zelf deze nieuwe technologie die het nieuws leest

In 2013 startte Piek Vossen (hoogleraar computationele lexicologie), samen met onderzoekers in Trento en San Sebastian en met de bedrijven LexisNexis (NL), SynerScope (NL) en het Engelse ScraperWiki het NewsReader project om een computerprogramma te ontwikkelen dat dagelijks het nieuws ‘leest’ en precies bijhoudt wat, wanneer, waar gebeurd is in de wereld en wie er bij betrokken is. Het project kreeg hiervoor 2,8 miljoen euro subsidie van de Europese Commissie.

SynerScope‘s visualization: extraction from 1.26M news articles

Nieuws lezen in vier talen
In afgelopen 3 jaar hebben de onderzoekers een technologie ontwikkeld om de computer automatisch het nieuws te laten lezen in vier talen. Uit miljoenen krantenartikelen is nu een doorzoekbare database gemaakt waarin duplicaten zijn ontdubbeld, complementerende informatie uit verschillende berichten op een slimme manier samengevoegd is en is de informatie verrijkt met fijnmazige types zodat je niet alleen op persoonsnamen zoals ‘Mark Rutte’ en `Diederik Samsom’ kunt zoeken, maar ook op entiteiten van het type ‘politicus’.

Presentatie NewsReader
Op dinsdagmiddag 24 november 2015 organiseert de onderzoeksgroep Computational Lexicology & Terminology Lab (CLTL) van Piek Vossen een workshop waarin de eindresultaten van het project gepresenteerd worden. Ook zijn er diverse sprekers die hun visie op het project geven, zoals VU-hoogleraar Frank van Harmelen (Knowledge Representation & Reasoning), Bernardo Magnini, onderzoeker bij FBK in Trento en Sybren Kooistra, data journalist bij de Volkskrant en medebedenker en hoofredacteur van Yournalism, het platform voor onderzoeksjournalistiek.

Doe mee met de Hackathon!
Op 25 november kunnen gebruikers zelf aan de slag met de nieuwsdatabase die is opgebouwd uit miljoenen krantenartikelen. Meer informatie en aanmelden.

NewsReader Workshop & Hackathon, Nov. 24—25 2015

Car Wars: Industrial Heroes Going Down Fighting

On 24 and 25 November 2015, we will showcase the NewsReader project and invite you to come explore our technology and its results yourself during our NewsReader Workshop and Hackathon.

Event Details
We have developed a powerful new tool called ‘NewsReader’ which utilises natural language understanding and semantic web technology. This helps you to better understand the interactions between companies and key individuals, derived from news articles.
Our dataset encompasses 12 years of news charting the struggle of automotive players to rule the global market, to satisfy the expectations of the shareholders, and their suffering from the financial crisis and new economies: industrial heroes going down!

The Workshop
Tuesday 24 November 2015, 14:00 – 18:00 Amsterdam Public Library
In this workshop, we will bring together start-ups, companies, researchers and developers to present and discuss the NewsReader project, the technological domains it draws from and future applications for these technologies.
This afternoon will feature invited talks, demos, a panel discussion and a networking reception.
Confirmed Speaker:
Prof. dr. Frank van Harmelen, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. Frank van Harmelen is a professor in Knowledge Representation & Reasoning in the AI department (Faculty of Science) at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam. After studying mathematics and computer science in Amsterdam, he moved to the Department of AI in Edinburgh, where he was awarded a PhD in 1989 for his research on meta-level reasoning.

The Hackathon
Wednesday 25 November 2015, 10:00 – 18:00 Amsterdam Public Library
In June 2014 and January 2015 we ran several hackathons in both London and Amsterdam in which NewsReader enabled the attendees to pull out networks of interactions between entrepreneurs, politicians, companies and thoroughly test drive our technology. This November, we’re releasing a new version of our processing pipeline and we’re scaling up to 10 million processed news articles from sources about the automotive industry to obtain a searchable database of the news. At the hackathon, you can play with this dataset and explore the processing pipeline.
The global automotive industry has a value in the order of $1 trillion annually. The industry comprises a massive network of suppliers, manufacturers, advertisers, marketeers and journalists. Each of these players has his/her own story, often with unexpected origins or endings; one day you may be CEO of a big car company, the next you are out and making pizzas. With NewsReader, you can uncover these stories to reconstruct the past.

This event may be of interest to you if:
You’re interested in natural language processing and/or semantic web technology
You’re a data journalist on an automotive desk;
You’re an analyst sifting daily news looking for information on your company or on competitors;
You’re a data analyst looking to understand how your customers operate their supply chain
You’re an analyst trying to find secondary events that could influence an investment decision;
You’re interested in visualising big data

Attendance is free, but please register by Sunday 22 November 17:00 CET. .

NewsReader helps you find a needle in a haystack.

Hackathon NewsReader Amsterdam: Jan. 21, 2015

Porsches to Pizza – Hack 6,000,000 automotive news articles #NewsReader


The global automotive industry has a value of the order of $1 trillion annually.

The industry comprises a massive network of suppliers, manufacturers, advertisers, marketeers and journalists. Attracting and supporting the industry is a significant goal of industrial policy.

On January 21st 2015 we’re running an event which should be of interest if :-

  • You’re a data journalist on an automotive desk;
  • You’re an analyst sifting daily news looking for information on your company or on competitors;
  • You’re a data analyst looking to understand how your customers operate their supply chain;
  • You’re an analyst trying to find secondary events that could influence an investment decision

We’ve developed a powerful new tool called ‘NewsReader’ which utilises natural language understanding and semantic web technology. This helps you to better understand the interactions between companies and key individuals, derived from news articles.

We’re processing 6 million news articles from sources around the world both general and specialist media to obtain a searchable database of the news on the automotive sector and you can play with at our Hack event.

Over summer we ran a Hack Day on news surrounding the World Cup. NewsReader enabled the attendees to pull out networks of interactions between politicians, football players and people in FIFA. Not only who they were interacting with but what they were doing.

Early analysis of the automotive data is giving us some interesting insights. For example, news stories between 2005 and 2009 reported that Porsche was buying an ever larger stake in Volkswagen, prompting speculations that Porsche would take over Volkswagen. However, in 2009 the tables turned and Volkswagen took a majority stake and eventually took over Porsche. Our system is able to discriminate between articles mentioning that Volkswagen was taking over Porsche and vice versa rather than simple co-occurrences that are generally found in aggregated news analysis systems. In the slipstream of this take-over, Wendelin Wiedeking, longtime Porsche senior executive, was fired from Porsche. In 2013 he opened the first of a chain of Italian restaurants. As we have a structured database in which similar events can easily be retrieved, it is a small effort to find out that Jürgen Schrempp, former CEO of DaimlerChrysler, also opened a restaurant after retiring from the car industry.

We are running an event in London on January 30th 2105 and if you cannot make the 21st in Amsterdam you may want to join us there.

NewsReader helps you find a needle in a haystack.



Mini-seminar: Disambiguating entities: Dec. 12 2014

Presentations Mini-seminar: Disambiguating entities and their roles in texts based on background knowledge on December 12, 2014:

Introduction (pdf) by Prof. dr. Piek Vossen
Towards a Dutch FrameNet-style Semantic Role Labeler (pdf) Presentation by Chantal van Son
Named Entity Disambiguation with two-stage coherence optimization (pdf) Presentation by Filip Ilievski

Invitation below:

Mini-seminar: Disambiguating entities and their roles in texts based on background knowledge

Dear all,

We cordially invite you to our mini-seminar “Disambiguating entities and their roles in texts based on background knowledge ” in which we will present our Master’s thesis topics and the current/future work. It will take place on Friday, December 12 from 10:00 to 12:00 in room C-121 (W&N Building).

An array of text processing tools is currently used to extract events, recognize and link entities, and discover relations between the two. We, Filip Ilievski and Chantal van Son, tackle these type of Natural Language Processing tasks by using background knowledge from lexical resources and the Semantic Web. The disambiguation of entities and their context is in the core of both approaches: Filip’s thesis aims to disambiguate them by determining their identity while Chantal’s thesis aims at disambiguating the roles they play in context. You can find the descriptions of both projects below.

Prof. Piek Vossen will kick-off the mini-seminar by depicting the background of the problem and presenting the existing approaches. Prof. Frank van Harmelen will conclude the event with a discussion on the integration of background knowledge in language processing.

10:00 – 10:15 Introduction by Piek Vossen
10:20 – 10:50 Towards a Dutch FrameNet-style Semantic Role Labeler (Chantal van Son)
10:55 – 11:25 Named Entity Disambiguation with two-stage coherence optimization (Filip Ilievski)
11:30 – 12:00 Closing remarks and discussion lead by Frank van Harmelen

Towards a Dutch FrameNet-style Semantic Role Labeler (Chantal van Son)
Semantic role labeling (SRL) is one of the key tasks in Natural Language Processing for deep text understanding. Because of its rich and fine-grained categorization of different conceptual scenarios and their specific semantic roles, FrameNet is a popular resource to serve as a basis for SRL systems in English. For Dutch however there is currently no FrameNet-like resource available that can be used to train a SRL system, and creating such a resource usually takes a great deal of expensive manual effort. This study investigates how existing tools and resources, such as the SoNaR Semantic Role Labeler (SSRL) and the Predicate Matrix, can be exploited for FrameNet based SRL in Dutch. In this talk I will present this method while discussing some of its difficulties and possible solutions to solve them.

Named Entity Disambiguation with two-stage coherence optimization (Filip Ilievski)
Contemporary Natural Language Processing modules solve Entity Linking, Event Detection, and Semantic Role Labeling as separate problems. From the semantic point of view, each of these processes adds another brush-stroke onto the canvas of meaning: entities and events are components that occur in relations which correspond to roles. The approach presented here extends such NLP processes with a semantic process of coherence optimization. I use both binary logic and probabilistic models built through manual and automatic techniques. The binary filtering phase relies on restrictions from VerbNet and a domain-specific ontology. The optimization phase aims to maximize the coherence between the remaining candidates in a probabilistic manner based on available background knowledge about the entities.

Kind regards,
Filip Ilievski & Chantal van Son

Summer School Perspectives on Subjectivity: July 06-17, 2015

Piek Vossen and his team organize a Summer School course “Perspectives on Subjectivity”, VU University Amsterdam, the Netherlands from July 06-17, 2015.

Who should join this course?

Advanced Bachelor/ Master students of Linguistics (theoretical, applied or computational), Artificial Intelligence and Journalism, and others interested in cultural perspectives in communication.

Course content

Welcome to Perpectives on Subjectivity: an excellent course in Amsterdam! That is a very subjective opening, as you will agree. Here the subjective perspective of the writer is obvious, but as a rule it is much more subtle. Subjectivity is one of the key elements of natural language. Every communicative act is subjective to some degree. Subjectivity starts with the intentions of the producer of the message and affects its associated functions and syntactic structures, not to mention the choice of vocabulary and associated connotations. All of this can be summarized as perspective.

This course combines theoretical linguistic notions about perspectives with hands-on work on real language data in the lab. Moving between theory, discussions, practical data annotation and data use (machine learning and quantative/ qualitative analysis), you explore a wide range of linguistic phenomena: reference, modality, attribution, registers, sentiment analysis, opinions, temporal processing and so on.

Perspectives on Subjectivity is provided by the Computational Lexicology & Terminology Lab (CLTL), which models computer understanding of natural language with a central role for sources like lexicons, ontologies and terminology. The CLTL is part of the Department of Language and Communication in the Faculty of humanities at VU University Amsterdam.

Learning objectives

  • You are familiar with linguistic theory on major topics in subjectivity and perspective: reference, modality, attribution, registers, sentiment analysis, opinions and temporal processing.
  • You can evaluate the relevant linguistic theory in critical discussions.
  • You can apply the theory tot the description and analysis of real language data.
  • You can annotate that data and analyse it in lab sessions, using machine learning and quantitative techniques (as used in data journalism, for instance).
  • Round table on ‘Time and Language’: Oct. 30, 2014

    Event date:
    Thursday, 30 October, 2014 – 18:30 to 20:00

    The round table “Time and Language”, organized by Tommaso Caselli (VUA, Amsterdam) and Rachele Sprugnoli (DH-FBK), will be held in Genoa on Thursday October 30 as part of “Festival della Scienza “.

    Time is a pervasive element of human life that is also reflected in the language. But how time is encoded in the various languages ​​of the world? How long is an event? What happens if we want to teach a computer to reconstruct the temporal order of events in a text? The philosopher of language Andrea Bonomi, the linguist Pier Marco Bertinetto and the computational linguist Bernardo Magnini will answer these questions to reveal to the public the role that time has in the language and the challenges of technology in this field. Philosophy, linguistics and technology come together and introduce the public to the fascinating relationship between time and language.

    TiNT: Terminologie in het Nederlandse Taalgebied: Nov. 14, 2014

    141117_TiNT_2014Impression of TiNT 2014, November 14, 2014 and link to programme

    Op 14 november 2014 organiseert de vereniging NL-Term in samenwerking met het Steunpunt Nederlandstalige Terminologie voor de zesde maal de TiNT-dag. TiNT staat voor Terminologie in het Nederlandse Taalgebied. Dit jaarlijks terugkerende evenement is bedoeld om actueel onderzoek en de professionele praktijk op het gebied van Nederlandstalige terminologie voor te stellen voor een breed publiek. TiNT 2014 vindt plaats op het Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken in Den Haag, van 9.30 tot 18.00 uur. Het thema is dit jaar Terminologie in de communicatie tussen overheid en burger. We hebben zeer interessante en voor het thema relevante sprekers vast kunnen leggen, waaronder Alex Brenninkmeijer van de Europese Rekenkamer, tot voor kort Nationale Ombudsman, Geert Joris, Algemeen Secretaris van de Nederlandse Taalunie en Jac Brouwer, Landelijk Huisstijlcoördinator van de Belastingdienst.

    We hopen ook dit jaar weer op een volle zaal, interessante presentaties en levendige discussie.

    Meer informatie, het voorlopige programma en het inschrijfformulier kunt u vinden op onze website:

    Met vriendelijke groet,
    namens het SNT en NL-Term
    Anneleen Schoen

    1st VU-Spinoza workshop: Oct. 17, 2014


    – an escape from the world of language –

    Spinoza Prize projects (2014-2019)
    Prof. dr. Piek Vossen

    Understanding language by machines
    1st VU-Spinoza workshop

    Friday, October 17, 2014 from 12:30 PM to 6:00 PM (CEST)

    Atrium, room D-146, VU Medical Faculty (1st floor, D-wing)
    Van der Boechorststraat 7
    1081 BT Amsterdam

    Please RSVP via Eventbrite before October 03, 2014


    Can machines understand language? According to John Searle, this is fundamentally impossible. He used the Chinese Room thought-experiment to demonstrate that computers follow instructions to manipulate symbols without understanding of these symbols. William van Orman Quine even questioned the understanding of language by humans, since symbols are only grounded through approximation by cultural situational convention. Between these extreme points of views, we are nevertheless communicating every day as part of our social behavior (within Heidegger’s hermeneutic circle), while more and more computers and even robots take part in communication and social interactions.

    The goal of the Spinoza project “Understanding of language by machines” (ULM) is to scratch the surface of this dilemma by developing computer models that can assign deeper meaning to language that approximates human understanding and to use these models to automatically read and understand text. We are building a Reference Machine: a machine that can map natural language to the extra- linguistic world as we perceive it and represent it in our brain.

    This is the first in a series of workshops that we will organize in the Spinoza project to discuss and work on these issues. It marks the kick-off of 4 projects that started in 2014, each studying different aspects of understanding and modeling this through novel computer programs. Every 6-months, we will organize a workshop or event that will bring together different research lines to this central theme and on a shared data sets.

    We investigate ambiguity, variation and vagueness of language; the relation between language, perception and the brain; the role of the world view of the writer of a text and the role of the world view and background knowledge of the reader of a text.

    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ Program ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    12:30 – 13:00 Welcome

    13:00 – 13:30 Understanding language by machines: Piek Vossen
    13:30 – 14:30 Borders of ambiguity: Marten Postma and Ruben Izquierdo
    14:30 – 15:00 Word, concept, perception and brain: Emiel van Miltenburg and Alessandro Lopopolo
    15:00 – 15:15 Coffee break
    15:15 – 15:45 Stories and world views as a key to understanding: Tommaso Caselli and Roser Morante
    15:45 – 16:15 A quantum model of text understanding: Minh Lê Ngọc and Filip Ilievski
    16:15 – 17:00 Discussion on building a shared demonstrator: a reference machine
    17:00 – 18:00 Drinks

    For more information on the project see Understanding of Language by Machines.

    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ RSVP ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    Admission is free. Please RSVP via Eventbrite before October 03, 2014.

    ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ Location ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

    Atrium, room D-146, VU Medical Faculty (1st floor, D-wing)
    Van der Boechorststraat 7
    1081 BT Amsterdam
    The Netherlands

    Parking info N.B. Campus parking is temporarily unavailable.