Curiosity, questioning and understanding sentiments have long been considered human attributes. Preksha Nema, a young scientist’s research is all set to change this! Through her research in natural language processing or popularly called NLP, she is trying to shatter the human-machine boundary by giving computers the magical power to question.
Born in Jabalpur city located in the heart of India, Madhya Pradesh, Preksha was fascinated by puzzles and computers from early on. Her love for computing and algorithms further crystallized during her graduation days in the prestigious engineering college NIT, Nagpur where she joined for B.Tech in Computer Science. Post her B.Tech, she joined NVIDIA, a leading computer systems design company where she got more exposed to the talks around deep learning and artificial intelligence and the way these technologies are going to change the course of the future. Destiny had its own plans and after 3 years in the industry, she decided to continue her studies. She wrote the GATE exam and joined IIT Madras for her M. Tech in Computer Science. During her masters itself, she was able to publish her first research paper which emanated from the IIT Madras- IBM research project in the NLP field.
Her two mentors, Dr Mitesh M. Khapra and Prof. Balaraman Ravindran, realized her research potential and pushed her to continue her research journey by registering for PhD. She decided to continue the similar work for her PhD in IIT Madras, understanding nuances of how humans and machines perceive language. Her PhD work revolved around developing approaches, models and algorithms that allow programs to summarize, generate descriptions and ask relevant and answerable questions from a given data or passage. The ultimate boost for her PhD came from the prestigious Google-PhD fellowship. The fellowship gave wings to her dreams as she had no dearth of resources to carry out her otherwise expensive experiments. It also gave her an opportunity to be an intern at Google. This internship later converted into a job offer and Google is her current stay as a research scientist.
Currently, NLP technology is being used for translation work, social media monitoring, targeted advertising and chat bots. Ask Preksha and she says that the field of Natural Language processing has immense potential specifically for India due to so many languages and dialects being spoken in India. As the field progresses, voice assistants like Siri, Alexa, Google Assistant etc. will be able to understand even if the speaker has queries that aren’t framed or there are pronunciation issues or voice tone is a mix of two or more languages. More research at this interface, which is a blend of language and machine intelligence, will allow the penetration of voice assistant services in remote areas and digitisation of rural India. Surely, the language will no longer be a barrier in the future world!
To know more about her research visit her webpage.