Ann Copestake

Professor Ann Copestake

BA MA DipCompSci DPhil

Ann is Professor of Computational Linguistics in the Department of Computer Science & Technology. Her research area is computational linguistics and Natural Language Processing, a branch of Artificial Intelligence.

Ann Copestake

After getting a degree in Natural Sciences from the University of Cambridge, Ann worked for Unilever Research for two years and then did the Diploma in Computer Science at Cambridge. She started doing research in Natural Language Processing/Computational Linguistics at the University of Cambridge Computer Laboratory (now the Department of Computer Science & Technology) in 1985.

She worked for ten years as a Research Associate on a series of projects while also doing a DPhil in Computer Science at the University of Sussex (1990-1992), visiting Xerox PARC (1993-1994), and working on the Verbmobil project for the University of Stuttgart (1994-1995). From July 1994 to October 2000 she was at the Center for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), Stanford University, as a Senior Researcher. She became a University Lecturer at Cambridge in October 2000 and is now Professor of Computational Linguistics. She was Head of Department from 1 May 2018 to September 2023.

Research interests

Ann’s research area is computational linguistics and Natural Language Processing, which is a branch of Artificial Intelligence. She sees this as fundamentally involving the development of formal computer models of human languages (or, more precisely, models of some aspects of human languages), rather than being guided by any particular application, although her work has been used in real-world contexts.

In conjunction with DELPH-IN, an informal international consortium, she has developed software which has been used to develop formal computational accounts of the syntax and compositional semantics of many different languages. Her current research mainly concerns the development of models of semantics which are compatible with broad-coverage computational processing (parsing and generation).

Ann is also interested in the formal aspects of combining distributional semantics with model theoretic accounts and in utilising DELPH-IN technology to establish the performance of deep learning systems according to linguistic criteria. Her most recent project is Giving Voice to Digital Democracies, part of the Centre for Humanities and Social Change. This is an example of the type of interdisciplinary work which she is very keen to promote via the Cambridge Language Sciences Interdisciplinary Research Centre.

Ann became Head of the Department of Computer Science and Technology on 1 May 2018, an exciting, challenging and complex role.