What is NLP? and History of NLP

What is NLP?

NLP stands for Natural Language Processing , which is a part of Computer Science, Human language, and Artificial Intelligence . It is the technology that is used by machines to understand, analyse, manipulate, and interpret human’s languages. It helps developers to organize knowledge for performing tasks such as translation, automatic summarization, Named Entity Recognition (NER), speech recognition, relationship extraction, and topic segmentation .

What is NLP

History of NLP

(1940-1960) - Focused on Machine Translation (MT)

The Natural Languages Processing started in the year 1940s.

1948 - In the Year 1948, the first recognisable NLP application was introduced in Birkbeck College, London.

1950s - In the Year 1950s, there was a conflicting view between linguistics and computer science. Now, Chomsky developed his first book syntactic structures and claimed that language is generative in nature.

In 1957, Chomsky also introduced the idea of Generative Grammar, which is rule based descriptions of syntactic structures.

(1960-1980) - Flavored with Artificial Intelligence (AI)

In the year 1960 to 1980, the key developments were:

Augmented Transition Networks (ATN)

Augmented Transition Networks is a finite state machine that is capable of recognizing regular languages.

Case Grammar

Case Grammar was developed by Linguist Charles J. Fillmore in the year 1968. Case Grammar uses languages such as English to express the relationship between nouns and verbs by using the preposition.

In Case Grammar, case roles can be defined to link certain kinds of verbs and objects.

For example: “Neha broke the mirror with the hammer”. In this example case grammar identify Neha as an agent, mirror as a theme, and hammer as an instrument.

In the year 1960 to 1980, key systems were:


SHRDLU is a program written by Terry Winograd in 1968-70. It helps users to communicate with the computer and moving objects. It can handle instructions such as “pick up the green boll” and also answer the questions like “What is inside the black box.” The main importance of SHRDLU is that it shows those syntax, semantics, and reasoning about the world that can be combined to produce a system that understands a natural language.


LUNAR is the classic example of a Natural Language database interface system that is used ATNs and Woods’ Procedural Semantics. It was capable of translating elaborate natural language expressions into database queries and handle 78% of requests without errors.

1980 - Current

Till the year 1980, natural language processing systems were based on complex sets of hand-written rules. After 1980, NLP introduced machine learning algorithms for language processing.

In the beginning of the year 1990s, NLP started growing faster and achieved good process accuracy, especially in English Grammar. In 1990 also, an electronic text introduced, which provided a good resource for training and examining natural language programs. Other factors may include the availability of computers with fast CPUs and more memory. The major factor behind the advancement of natural language processing was the Internet.

Now, modern NLP consists of various applications, like speech recognition, machine translation, and machine text reading . When we combine all these applications then it allows the artificial intelligence to gain knowledge of the world. Let’s consider the example of AMAZON ALEXA, using this robot you can ask the question to Alexa, and it will reply to you.