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Communications of the ACM

Communications of the ACM

Commercial applications of natural language processing

Vast quantities of text are becoming available in electronic form, ranging from published documents (e.g., electronic dictionaries, encyclopedias, libraries and archives for information retrieval services), to private databases (e.g., marketing information, legal records, medical histories), to personal email and faxes. Online information services are reaching mainstream computer users. There were over 15 million Internet users in 1993, and projections are for 30 million in 1997. With media attention reaching all-time highs, hardly a day goes by without a new article on the National Information Infrastructure, digital libraries, networked services, digital convergence or intelligent agents. This attention is moving natural language processing along the critical path for all kinds of novel applications.

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