Proceedings of the 2020 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP)
Like my colleague, Dan Jurafsky, General Chair of ACL-2020, the first ACL conference to be hit by the virus that has up-ended our world, I am sitting at my laptop, in the same chair I have sat in since March 2020, to welcome you to EMNLP-2020. It is also where I am likely to be sitting for EMNLP-2020 itself. As in previous years, the purpose of the General Chair’s preface to express thanks — first, to the obvious people whose heroic efforts brought such a large conference to fruition, including: • the three Programme Co-Chairs — Trevor Cohn, Yulan He and Yang Liu — who oversaw a process in which 3677 papers were submitted for review from 57 countries; • the Senior Area Chairs, Area Chairs and reviewers whose expertise enabled authors to learn from their reviews and to deliver papers that improved on their original submissions; • the Publication Co-Chairs — Yang Gao, Veronika Laippala and Philippe Muller — and the experience they gained from the General Publication Chair, Fei Liu, who met the challenge of identifying and correcting the myriad ways in which papers could be mis-formatted and assembled the result into our conference proceedings • the Co-Chairs of Findings of the ACL – Jing Li and Lemao Liu – ACL’s new publication venue, and Kushal Arora, who implemented a new process for matching Findings papers to workshops where they might be presented; • the Tutorial Co-Chairs — Aline Villavicencio and Benjamin Van Durme — who selected the seven tutorials to be presented at the conference; • the Demonstration Co-Chairs — Qun Liu and David Schlangen — who did the same for the 35 demos that we will see over the course of the conference; • the new Ethics Co-Chairs — Dirk Hovy and Karën Fort — who undertook the delicate task of checking papers that had been flagged for potential ethics issues; • our website chair, Andy MacKinlay, who ensured that the EMNLP-2020 website stayed fit for purpose. But, in addition, we must also thank others whose support has been critical to both virtualizing EMNLP2020 and keeping the community engaged with it — • the members of the Virtual Infra-structure Committee, co-chaired by Jan-Christoph Klie and Zhongyu Wei — Eduardo Blanco, Yang Feng and Yansong Feng — helped by advisors from the ACL-2020 Virtual Infra-structure Committee — Hao Fang, Sudha Rao and Xiruo Ding; • the Volunteer Coordinator — Kellie Webster — who managed to attract over 200 student and early career volunteers willing to help make EMNLP a success; • of those student and early career volunteers, those who shouldered responsibility for important parts of the infra-structure, including Luciana Benotti and Cyril Weerasooriya (RocketChat), Ed Howard-Jones (HelpDesk), and Gisela Vallejo (Zoom); • also of those student and early career volunteers, those who undertook to build booths for our sponsors — Kaushal Kumar Maurya, Francisco Xavier Sumba Toral, Saichethan M. Reddy, Shirley Anugrah Hayati, Manan Dey, Eraldo R. Fernandes, Arshiya Aggarwal, Alfredo Lozano, Jiaxin Pei, Junheng Hao, Reem Al-Yami, Anish Mohan, Christian Kavouras, Tornike Tsereteli, Emily Chen, Wiem Ben Rim and Chandrahas; v • the Publicity Co-chairs — Anna Rogers and Ruifeng Xu — who have served as both the voice of EMNLP in communicating with the community and as its ears, reporting on community concerns as soon as they were expressed; • the Workshop Co-chairs — Jackie Chi Kit Cheung and Lonneke van der Plas — whose work in selecting the 24 workshops for EMNLP-2020 turned out to be only the start of ensuring that the workshops could successfully run virtually; • the Diversity & Inclusion Chairs – Isabelle Augenstein and Chris Brew — and the D&I Student Chairs – Murathan Kurfali and Prathyusha Jwalapuram — who have worked tirelessly to make EMNLP as welcoming and inclusive as possible for all participants. The activities that they have worked with community members to create (Birds of a Feather sessions, Affinity Group sessions, student panels, Mentoring sessions and Coffee Socials) should contribute to reinforcing us as a community (and as sub-groups within the community), despite not being together physically. We also want to express special thanks to Priscilla Rasmussen, the ACL Business Manager, first for booking EMNLP 2020 into a beautiful resort in the Dominican Republic, and then for getting the booking postponed until EMNLP 2021. Last but not least, I would like to express gratitude to our sponsors, whose generous support has been invaluable in building up EMNLP to what it is now. These include our Diamond-level sponsors — Bloomberg Engineering, Google Research, Apple and Amazon Science; our Platinum-level sponsors — Baidu, Megagon Labs, Facebook and DeepMind; our Gold-level sponsors — Grammarly, ByteDance and Zeta Alpha; our Silver-level sponsors — Babelscape, Naver, Adobe, Hitachi and Salesforce; and our Bronze-level sponsor — USC ISI. DeepMind has also generously contributed to supporting our Diversity & Inclusion activities.