Dominique Estival – Background

I received my PhD in linguistics from the University of Pennsylvania in 1986 with a thesis on diachronic syntax.  While at UPenn, I also studied computational linguistics and got interested in cognitive science.  This allowed me to start working as a computational linguist in industry after my PhD.

I started in a machine translation company (Weidner, Chicago, USA; 1986-88), where I was in charge of the French-English translation pair and then went to at Wang Laboratories (Boston, USA; 1988-89), where I worked on the morphological component and the lexicon for authoring tools.  I then moved to ISSCO (Geneva, Switzerland; 1989-1995), one of the oldest research centres in Natural Language Processing in Europe.  While at ISSCO, my main strand of research concerned grammar formalisms for NLP and I took part in several European linguistic engineering projects, in particular GRAAL and TSNLP. I also participated in the design and development of the ELU system, and between 1993 and 1996, I was a member of the Grammar Formalism Working Group in the European EAGLES initiative.

In 1995, I came to Australia to take up the position of lecturer in Computational Linguistics at the University of Melbourne (1995-1998), which was partly funded by the Microsoft Research Institute. In my research at the U. of Melbourne, I pursued the investigation of the computational modelling of language change, for which I received a SIG in 1996 and a Small ARC grant in 1997. I also led a joint project with the Computer Science Department for a Natural Language Interface to a Small Robot (Estival, 1998).

Since then, I have been involved in helping establish NLP and LT in Australia, in particular with the founding of ALTA, the Australasian Language Technology Association, in 2001, and of OzCLO, the Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad, in 2008.

I have been associated with the Language Technology Group (LTG) at Macquarie University since 1996, becoming a board member when I took the position of Head of the Natural Language Group at Syrinx Speech Systems in 1999. I was appointed Associate Researcher and Visiting Fellow at Macquarie between 2003 and 2008, while I was a Senior Research Scientist at the Defence Science and Technology Organisation (DSTO) and then Senior Manager at Appen in Sydney. 

As an Honorary Associate in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Sydney, I taught the “Syntax” and “Syntax of English” subjects in 2008-2010. I regularly give invited lectures on “Human communication” in the Aviation course at the University of New South Wales.


(Other NLP activities)



Together with Jane Simpson, then at the University of Sydney, and Rachel Nordlinger, at the University of Melbourne, I started the organisation of the Australian Computational and Linguistics Olympiad in 2009 and chaired its Steering Committee until 2013. While we have sent an Australian team to the International Linguistics Olympiads (ILO) since 2009, OzCLO has now expanded across Australia, with more than fifteen hundred high school students competing in 2019. You can hear more about OzCLO in the Lingua Franca interview (ABC Radio, September 2009), and in the PM radio program (ABC Radio, February 2010). 



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