Recently I was asked about different issues regarding NLP, due to my PhD studies in that field, and I’ve started reading again about this…
Natural Language Processing is a part of the Artificial Intelligence which studies how a computer could understand natural human languages, like English. There are a lot of subjects in NLP, but in my personal case I used syntactic analyzers to detect the parts of the phrases and the relations between them. For example, to discover if a noun is modified with the surrounding words (“the blue car in the parking lot“). This information were used in a Information Retrieval system (which is something like Google or Yahoo search), to help the system to “understand” what the user is asking for. It was an interesting application of syntactic analyzers.
Another amazing use for syntactic analyzers is Visual Text Formatting.
I found an interesting article about “Visual-Syntactic Text Formatting” and a commercial website with some examples. Basically the idea is to use the syntactic information (obtained from NLP tools) to format the text in a way that is easier to read. The result seems quite effective. Surprising idea!