The Baltic HLT conference, which began in Riga back in 2004, is now returning to the Latvian capital for the third time as the 7th international conference “Human Language Technologies – the Baltic Perspective”. What has happened during these 12 years?
The first Baltic HLT conference, over a decade ago, was a significant moment for researchers, developers, and industry representatives, as it was the first event to focus on language technology development in the Baltic region. This success inspired the organization of biennial conferences in Tallinn (2005), Kaunas (2007), Riga (2010), Tartu (2012), and Kaunas (2014). Since 2010, the conference proceedings have been published by IOS Press, and since 2012 are openly accessible online.
During the last decade, the Baltic states have played an active role in regional and international language technology activities, supporting less resourced languages in the digital age. All three countries – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – have joined the CLARIN research infrastructure; researchers and developers have become part of the Multilingual Europe Technology Alliance META-NET; and institutions have initiated and participated in numerous projects in European Union Research and Innovation Framework Programmes.
National funding programs in all three Baltic states have played an important role in the research and development of human language technologies. Programs such as the National Program for Estonian Language Technology, the national program “The Lithuanian Language for Information Society,” and the IT Competence Centre Program in Latvia are helping to fill major gaps in language resources and tools, including those identified in the META-NET comparative study of European languages. Moreover, these programs support the transfer of research results into innovative applications. Many of these achievements are presented in the conference proceedings.
Continuing the tradition of previous conferences, Baltic HLT 2016 provides a forum for sharing new ideas and recent advances in human language processing. Its special focus is on less-resourced languages. More than 65 authors from 15 countries submitted their papers for blind review. Papers selected for the conference represent a wide range of topics, including a general overview of language technology progress in the Baltic states, actual research topics in written and spoken language processing, the creation of language resources and their applications, and proposals on the European language platform.
We would like to express our gratitude to all members of the program committee for their hard work. We'd also like to thank the authors for their contributions, which demonstrate the most important achievements in our region and reveal the latest tendencies in language technology research in the Baltic states. We hope that the proceedings will be a useful resource not only for Baltic language researchers, but also for those who work with other less-resourced languages in Europe and beyond.
Chair of the Program Committee