Natural Language Understanding

The Natural Language Understanding group works at the intersection of machine learning and natural language processing, with an emphasis on representation learning for the meaning of language, attention-based deep learning models, and structured prediction.

In our group, we model summarization, abstraction (textual entailment), machine translation, knowledge extraction, syntactic structure, and lexical semantics, among other natural language processing (NLP) problems. We develop deep learning models of the discovery and prediction of entities and their relations at multiple levels of representation for multiple tasks.

Group News

A novel architecture to improve syntactic analysis
research — last modified Apr 21, 2021

Demonstrating a significant improvements over the previous state-of-the-art results, James Henderson and Alireza Mohammadshahi of the Natural language understanding group propose a novel approach. Their work was presented during the 16th Conference of the European Chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics (EACL) on April 21, 2021.

Importance of context in machine translation
research — Mar 18, 2021

Perfect understanding of a text is not possible without context. Same goes for a computer. It cannot do a good translation without understanding what is really defined in a text. At Idiap, Lesly Miculicich conducted research to make this possible through her thesis which she successfully defended last February.

Andrei Popescu-Belis, professor at HEIG-VD and former Idiap researcher, receives prize for best article
research — Jan 23, 2018

An article, co-authored by Prof. Andrei Popescu-Belis, has received the Best Paper Award at the International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (IJCNLP). The article presents the research of Dr Nikolaos Pappas - a postdoc at the Idiap Research Institute in Martigny - under the supervision of Prof. Popescu-Belis, former head of Idiap’s Natural Language Processing group.

Best Multimodal Paper Award to Nikolaos Pappas and co-authors at ICMR 2016
research — Jun 10, 2016

The paper "Multilingual Visual Sentiment Concept Matching" by Nikolaos Pappas, Mercan Topkara, Miriam Redi, Brendan Jou, Tao Chen, Hongyi Liu, Shih-Fu Chang has received the Best Multimodal Paper Award at the Annual ACM International Conference on Multimedia Retrieval (ICMR), held on June 6-9 in New York.

Idiap submission to MediaEval 2013 ranked first for the video hyperlinking task
research — Nov 26, 2013

The Idiap NLP group has participated in the search and hyperlinking task at the MediaEval 2013 evaluation campaign. The NLP group was ranked first out of eleven participants on the hyperlinking task (finding video segments related to a given one) and third out of seven on the keyword video search task.

Group Job Openings

Several Openings for Cross-Disciplinary Senior Researcher positions by admin — last modified Mar 01, 2021
With the growth of the institute, in addition to increased Federal funding to further support its activities, Idiap is opening several additional permanent senior research scientist positions.

Current Group Members

The group is led by James Henderson.

HENDERSON, James (Brinton)
(Senior Research Scientist)
- website

(Research Assistant)

COMAN, Andrei (Catalin)
(Research Assistant)
- website

FEHR, Fabio (James)
(Research Assistant)
- website

MAI, Florian
(Research Assistant)
- website

MARFURT, Andreas
(Research Assistant)
- website

(Research Assistant)
- website

(Research Assistant)
- website


  • BHATT, Chidansh
  • GASNIER, Catherine
  • HABIBI, Maryam
  • HAJLAOUI, Najeh
  • HONNET, Pierre-Edouard
  • LE, Quoc Anh
  • LISON, Pierre
  • LIYANAPATHIRANA, Jeevanthi Uthpala
  • LOAICIGA, Sharid
  • LUONG, Ngoc-Quang
  • MAHDABI, Parvaz
  • MATENA, Lukas
  • MEYER, Braida (Regula)
  • MEYER, Thomas
  • MICULICICH, Lesly (Sadiht)
  • PAPPAS, Nikolaos
  • PATEL, Kumar
  • PU, Xiao
  • REKABSAZ, Navid
  • YAZDANI, Majid

Active Research Grants

Past Research Grants