What is computational linguistics?
Computational linguistics (CL) is an interdisciplinary field between linguistics and computer science. Its main goal is to process human languages by means of computers. Typical applications are systems understanding natural language, such as robots controlled by natural languages or machine translations systems. Methods of CL comprise both discrete symbolic models of linguistic knowledge as well as probabilistic models based on statistics. Whereas earlier systems were often handcrafted, today they are mostly induced automatically from linguistic data by means of statistical procedures. As a consequence of this, symbolic and statistical systems are more and more growing together.
What does a computational linguist do?
Computational linguists are mostly specialized in a certain special topic of their field. This specialization tends to be either in the direction of natural language and linguistics or the direction of computer science. Computational linguistics having linguistic specializations focus on fields such as phonology, morphology, syntax or semantics. Given a specialization in computer science, the focus is on formal methods such as parsing, automata theory, grammar formalisms, or statistical methods in the context of machine learning. In academia, computational linguists spend their times reading, writing, programming and performing experiments; in industry, they are rather mostly occupied with implementing large-scale software.