Natural Language Understanding

Spring Semester 2018

This course presents an introduction to general topics and techniques used in natural language processing today, primarily focusing on statistical approaches. The course provides an overview of the primary areas of research in language processing as well as a detailed exploration of the models and techniques used both in research and in commercial natural language systems.

The objective of the course is to learn the basic concepts in the statistical processing of natural languages. The course will be project-oriented so that the students can also gain hands-on experience with state-of-the-art tools and techniques.

Course Catalogue Info


18/02/2018 The webpage for this year's course is online.
18/02/2018 Lectures start on Monday - February 19th!
18/02/2018 Exercises start on Monday - February 26th!
15/03/2018 The first project is now available!

Course Overview

1 19.02.2018 Introduction, Entities lecture01a lecture01b No Exercise
2 26.02.2018 Part-of-Speech, Named-Entity Recognition, IE lecture02 exercise01
3 05.03.2018 Language Models lecture03 assignment02 prog_assignment02 solution02 sol_prog_assignment02
4 12.03.2018 Lexical Semantics, Word Embeddings lecture04 assignment03 solution03
5 19.03.2018 Spoken Language lecture05 TensorflowSlidesTensorflowNotes code
6 26.03.2018 Machine Translation lecture06 assignment05solutions05code
7 02.04.2018 Easter Holiday No Lecture No Exercise
8 09.04.2018 Grammars and Parsing, Part I lecture07 exercise06assignment06solutions06
9 16.04.2018 Grammars and Parsing, Part II lecture08 No Exercise
10 23.04.2018 Document & Topic Models assignment07
11 30.04.2018 No Lecture
12 07.05.2018 Text Summarization, Sentiment Analysis
13 14.05.2018 Conversational Agents
14 21.05.2018 Holiday No Lecture No Exercise
15 28.05.2018 Question Answering


Monday 10 - 12 h CAB G 11

Exercises (starting february 26)

Monday 13 - 14 h ML H 44


Each exercise session will provide you with a a pen-and-paper problem and discussion of the solution in the session. These problems help solidify theory presented in the lecture and identify areas of lack of understanding.


Based on the topics covered, you will be given two projects to be developed during the semester. For each of the projects, students must work in small groups of 3-4 students.

Project description for Task 1 out of 2 is online: here.

Written Exam

The mode of examination is written, 120 minutes length. The language of examination is English. No written aids are allowed for the exam.


Your final grade will be determined by the written final exam (70%) and the semester projects (30%).

Recordings of the Lectures

Available here


You can ask questions on piazza. Please post questions there, so others can see them and share in the discussion.

If you have questions which are not of general interest, please don't hesitate to contact us directly.

Lecturer Prof. Thomas Hofmann
Lecturer Dr. Massimiliano Ciaramita
Head Assistant Paulina Grnarova
Assistants Florian Schmidt, Gary Becigneul, Konstantin Taranov, Jovan Andonov, Benjamin Gallusser, Alexandru Tifrea


Speech and Language Processing - An Introduction to Natural Language Processing, Computational Linguistics, and Speech Recognition (Second Edition), by Daniel Jurafsky and James H. Martin