Natural Language Generation (2008)

Course information


Johanna Moore, 1R22, 2 Buccleuch Place,

Meeting times


Aims and objectives

The area of study called natural language generation (NLG) investigates how computer programs can be made to produce high-quality natural language text or speech from computer-internal representations of information. Motivations for this study range from highly theoretical attempts to understand how people produce text and speech (linguistic, psycholinguistic) to entirely practical efforts to produce natural language output for a wide range of applications, including automatic explanation from advisory systems, automatic summarisation from single or multiple documents, machine translation, dialogue systems, tutorial systems, and many more.

This course will provide:


This course assumes that students have taken Introduction to Computational Linguistics and have prior progrramming experience.

Useful textbook

Ehud Reiter and Robert Dale (2000) Building Natural Language Generation Systems, Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Teaching methods

This course will consist of lectures, student presentations and discussions.


Students will be assessed on performance on:

  1. Oral Presentations consisting of two items:
    • An individual presentation on a seminar topic based on 2-3 papers from the seminar reading list (35%)
    • Participation in seminar discussion, including completion of peer review forms providing anonymous feedback on student presentations (15%)
  2. A term project/paper, which is due on Monday, 31 March 2008 and is considered a type of examination (50%)


Note: After introductory lectures by the lecturer, there will be student presentations and student-led discussions. The papers listed here are suggestions for each category, and which we read will depend on student interest. We will read many, but not all of the papers listed here.

The problem of natural language generation is typically viewed as a three-stage process: We will cover each of these topics in detail, and then consider applications of language generation theories and technologies.


See the course reading list.

Software available for course projects, and some fun demos to play with

Other Useful Links

The following web pages may prove useful during the course.

Home : Teaching : Courses 

Informatics Forum, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9AB, Scotland, UK
Tel: +44 131 651 5661, Fax: +44 131 651 1426, E-mail:
Please contact our webadmin with any comments or corrections. Logging and Cookies
Unless explicitly stated otherwise, all material is copyright © The University of Edinburgh