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Björn Gambäck, Prof.

mail: gamback AT sics DOT se      

The Integrated Project COMPANIONS.

Language Processing Resources for Under-Resourced Languages.

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Currently I am upholding a permanent position as Research Expert at SICS, working as Principal Investigator in the European Commission's 6th Framework Programme Integrated Project COMPANIONS on embodied conversational agents (ECAs), with 15 partners in Europe and the US. The project concerns ECAs as persistent companions for users in carrying out activities within their personal digital space, such as organising image and text records of their lives as coherent narratives.
In November 2007 I was appointed full Professor in Language Technology at the Department of Computer and Information Science, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) in Trondheim, Norway, and shall share my time evenly between NTNU and SICS.

My research career started in September 1989 at the Swedish Institute of Computer Science (SICS), Kista, Sweden, writing a thesis on pragmatic reasoning in Bridge as part of the MSc (civ.ing.) programme in Computer Science and Engineering (Datateknik) at KTH / The Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm.
During the first half of the 90s, my work was mainly centred around building unification-based syntactic grammar, morphology and lexica for Swedish, machine translation, and machine learning for lexical acquisition - work that lead up to the writing of a PhD Thesis in 1995. However, the thesis was not defended that year, since I in July 1995 was offered a position at the Research Group Head level ("BAT 1a") at the University of the Saarland, Saarbrücken, Germany.

The visit in Germany changed my research focus towards computational and robust semantics for underspecified representations and to spoken dialogue understanding for German and Japanese (within the Verbmobil spoken-dialogue machine translation project).
In 1997 I returned to Sweden and the speech group at KTH where I defended my PhD Thesis (tekn. dr.) in June. Almost immediately after, I was offered a position as full Professor (Chair) at the University of Helsinki, Finland substituting half-time for Kimmo Koskenniemi for two years. During 1997-1999 I then worked both in Helsinki and in Stockholm, first at KTH and from 1998 at SICS again.

Most recently (since 2001), I have been coordinating projects sponsored by the European Commission. First DUMAS, an effort within the 5th Framework Programme aimed at building adaptive multilingual mobile spoken dialogue systems using robust language understanding and machine learning-based user adaptation.
Then the 6th Framework Programme (FET Open) Integrated Project EVERGROW on complex systems, with 29 partners spread out over most of Europe, Israel and Egypt. The key points of the project concern the evolution of cooperative behaviour in networks of vast numbers of independent agents, each playing to its self-interest and to the limits of its own knowledge.

During the spring of 2004, I was also visiting Addis Ababa University, Ethiopia and then (remotely) supervising a group of Master students there, working in particular on Self-Organizing Maps for text classification and Speech Recognition for Amharic (the main language of Ethiopia).
Since then I've worked part time on a project to use machine learning methods for rapid development of language processing tools for Amharic, in a project called ' Language Processing Resources for Under-Resourced Languages' sponsored by Sida through "SPIDER", the Swedish Programme for ICT in Developing Regions.