PARC Computational Linguist Lauri Karttunen Wins Lifetime Achievement Award

Press Release

PALO ALTO, CA, August 3, 2007 – Lauri Karttunen, a research fellow at PARC (Palo Alto Research Center, Inc., a Xerox Company), has been awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association for Computational Linguistics, the international scientific and professional society for people working on problems involving natural language and computation. In the area of computational linguistics, Karttunen was one of the first pioneers to realize and exploit the potential of finite-state transducers for linguistic applications.

Karttunen’s award is for his scientific achievements, both theoretical and applied. Only one recipient is honored annually, chosen for originality, depth, breadth, and impact of the entire body of work in computational linguistics. At 65, Karttunen is the youngest recipient of this award.

“Lauri Karttunen has been the fundamental link between PARC’s scientific accomplishments in natural language and their applications in the real world.” PARC president and director Mark Bernstein said. “His contributions to PARC, to Xerox and its European Research Centre in Grenoble, and to the field of linguistics have been foundational and truly transformative.”

Karttunen received his Ph.D. in Linguistics from Indiana University in 1969. While teaching at University of Texas from 1969-1983, he worked on semantics and authored a number of seminal papers on discourse referents, presuppositions, and questions. His 1983 KIMMO system was an influential implementation of two-level morphology. In 1987 Karttunen joined PARC, where he has pioneered finite-state technology morphology and its applications to natural language processing, in particular to morphological analysis and generation.

Karttunen is known for his contributions to the semantics of discourse referents, presuppositions, and questions. He realized and exploited the potential of finite-state transducers for linguistic applications. The software developed for these applications is the foundation of many commercial applications. For example, Karttunen’s research in finite-state networks was commercialized by Inxight, a PARC spin-off and text analytics software company (which recently was purchased by business intelligence company Business Objects).

Karttunen’s many classic publications include the textbook Finite State Morphology (CSLI Publications, 2003), co-authored with Kenneth Beesley.

Currently, Karttunen focuses on researching semantics, exploring local textual inference. He also is a consulting professor in linguistics at Stanford University.

Originally from Finland, Karttunen lives in Emerald Hills, California, with his wife Annie Zaenen, a Principal Scientist at PARC. Karttunen has two grown daughters from a previous marriage, and three grandsons. His award-acceptance speech, “Word Play,” will appear in the December 2007 issue of Computational Linguistics (MIT Press).

About PARC

PARC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Xerox Corporation (NYSE: XRX), collaborates with sponsors and clients to discover breakthrough business and technology concepts that solve real needs, and transform how enterprises deliver value to customers. PARC’s physical, computer, biological, and social scientists take an agile, cross-disciplinary approach to innovation, with the vision, expertise, and instinct to convert groundbreaking scientific findings into industrial-strength
prototypes. Founded in 1970 as part of Xerox Research, then incorporated in 2002 as an independent research business, PARC is celebrated for such innovations as laser printing, distributed computing and Ethernet, the graphical user interface (GUI), object-oriented programming, and ubiquitous computing.

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