How does natural language understanding NLU work?

For example, the Date entity has the method asLocalDate(), which returns a LocalDate object , which has very powerful methods for date arithmetics. The City entity contains information about the country, population, latitude and longitude. DisclaimerAll content on this website, including dictionary, thesaurus, literature, geography, and other reference data is for informational purposes only. This information should not be considered complete, up to date, and is not intended to be used in place of a visit, consultation, or advice of a legal, medical, or any other professional. The first successful attempt came out in 1966 in the form of the famous ELIZA program which was capable of carrying on a limited form of conversation with a user.


This is particularly important, given the scale of unstructured text that is generated on an everyday basis. NLU-enabled technology will be needed to get the most out of this information, and save you time, money and energy to respond in a way that consumers will appreciate. Without a strong relational model, the resulting response isn’t likely to be what the user intends to find. The key aim of any Natural Language Understanding-based tool is to respond appropriately to the input in a way that the user will understand. Rather than relying on computer language syntax, Natural Language Understanding enables computers to comprehend and respond accurately to the sentiments expressed in natural language text. Natural Language Understanding is a field of computer science which analyzes what human language means, rather than simply what individual words say.

Large Language Model Training in 2023

While translations are still seldom perfect, they’re often accurate enough to convey complex meaning with reasonable accuracy. People and machines routinely exchange information via voice or text interface. But will machines ever be able to understand — and respond appropriately to — a person’s emotional state, nuanced tone, or understated intentions? The science supporting this breakthrough capability is called natural-language understanding . According to various industry estimates only about 20% of data collected is structured data.

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By default, virtual assistants tell you the weather for your current location, unless you specify a particular city. The goal of question answering is to give the user response in their natural language, rather than a list of text answers. Company used NLU, it could ask customers to enter their shipping and billing information verbally. The software would understand what the customer meant and enter the information automatically. Botpress allows you to leverage the most advanced AI technologies, including state-of-the-art NLU systems. By using the Botpress open-source platform, you can create NLU-powered chatbots that perform ahead of the curve while costing less money and resources.

What Does Natural Language Understanding (NLU) Mean?

Back then, the moment a user strayed from the set format, the chatbot either made the user start over or made the user wait while they find a human to take over the conversation. NLP is a critical piece of any human-facing artificial intelligence. An effective NLP system is able to ingest what is said to it, break it down, comprehend its meaning, determine appropriate action, and respond back in language the user will understand. Think about the parts of your business where you can improve operations, processes, and outcomes.

  • It’s aim is to make computers interpret natural human language in order to understand it and take appropriate actions based on what they have learned about it.
  • Machines can find patterns in numbers and statistics, pick up on subtleties like sarcasm which aren’t inherently readable from text, or understand the true purpose of a body of text or a speech.
  • Transcreation is the exact opposite of word-for-word translation in some circumstances .
  • For example, clothing retailer Asos was able to increase orders by 300% using Facebook Messenger Chatbox, and it garnered a 250% ROI increase while reaching almost 4 times more user targets.
  • The goal of NLU is to extract structured information from user messages.
  • This requires creating a model that has been trained on labelled training data, including what is being said, who said it and when they said it .

When an unfortunate incident occurs, customers file a claim to seek compensation. As a result, insurers should take into account the emotional context of the claims processing. As a result, if insurance companies choose to automate claims processing with chatbots, they must be certain of the chatbot’s emotional and NLU skills. With FAQ chatbots, businesses can reduce their customer care workload . As a result, they do not require both excellent NLU skills and intent recognition. Rewriting input text so that speakers of many languages can understand it in its entirety.

Rapid interpretation and response

A key difference is that NLU focuses on the meaning of the text and NLP focuses more on the structure of the text. Lookup tables are lists of words used to generate case-insensitive regular expression patterns. They can be used in the same ways as regular expressions are used, in combination with the RegexFeaturizer and RegexEntityExtractor components in the pipeline. You can use regular expressions to create features for the RegexFeaturizer component in your NLU pipeline. Let’s say you had an entity account that you use to look up the user’s balance.

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Learn how to extract and classify text from unstructured data with MonkeyLearn’s no-code, low-code text analysis tools. With natural language processing and machine learning working behind the scenes, all you need to focus on is using the tools and helping them to improve their natural language understanding. Natural language processing and natural language understanding are two cornerstones of artificial intelligence.

Breaking down human language into a system using computational linguistics

Natural Language Understanding is a subset area of research and development that relies on foundational elements from Natural Language Processing systems, which map out linguistic elements and structures. Natural Language Processing focuses on the creation of systems to understand human language, whereas Natural Language Understanding seeks to establish comprehension. Question answering is a subfield of NLP and speech recognition that uses NLU to help computers automatically understand natural language questions. Natural language understanding is a subfield of natural language processing.

NLU is one of the most important areas of NLP as it makes it possible for machines to understand us. Natural Language Processing is the process of analysing and understanding the human language. It’s a subset of artificial intelligence and has many applications, such as speech recognition, translation and sentiment analysis. NLU and NLP’s need rose with advancements in technology and research, and computers can analyze and perform tasks for all sorts of data.


However, such use of these terms misinterprets what each means, leading to misunderstanding and confusion about what specific types of technology can achieve. Think about some of the ways in which you go about acquiring information every day. Things like using a search engine or asking a digital assistant about the weather or the traffic on your route to work all rely on AI. More specifically, they use natural language understanding to understand better exactly what it is you are asking.

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As demonstrated in the video below, mortgage chatbots can also gather, validate, and evaluate data. NLU skills are necessary, though, if users’ sentiments vary significantly or if AI models are exposed to explaining the same concept in a variety of ways. However, NLU lets computers understand “emotions” and “real meanings” of the sentences. NLU can greatly help journalists and publishers extract answers to complex questions from deep within content using natural language interaction with content archives.

For example, allow customers to dial into a knowledgebase and get the answers they need. Without sophisticated software, understanding implicit factors is difficult. Explore some of the latest NLP research at IBM or take a look at some of IBM’s product offerings, like Watson Natural Language Understanding. Its text analytics service offers insight into categories, concepts, entities, keywords, relationships, sentiment, and syntax from your textual data to help you respond to user needs quickly and efficiently.


Such technology ensures Google, Alexa, or Siri can give you a relevant, contextual response. Trying to meet customers on an individual level is difficult when the scale is so vast. Rather than using human resource to provide a tailored experience, NLU software can capture, process and react to the large quantities of unstructured data that customers provide at scale. Knowledge of that relationship and subsequent action helps to strengthen the model. Two key concepts in natural language processing are intent recognition and entity recognition.


It’s also central to nlu definition support applications that answer high-volume, low-complexity questions, reroute requests, direct users to manuals or products, and lower all-around customer service costs. As humans, we can identify such underlying similarities almost effortlessly and respond accordingly. But this is a problem for machines—any algorithm will need the input to be in a set format, and these three sentences vary in their structure and format. And if we decide to code rules for each and every combination of words in any natural language to help a machine understand, then things will get very complicated very quickly. Two people may read or listen to the same passage and walk away with completely different interpretations.

What is an example of NLU?

A useful business example of NLU is customer service automation. With text analysis solutions like MonkeyLearn, machines can understand the content of customer support tickets and route them to the correct departments without employees having to open every single ticket.

WildcardEntity can be used to match arbitrary strings, as part of an intent. The preceding and following words in the example are used to identify the string, so it is important that these match. In the examples above, we have assumed that the EnumEntity only has one value field, which has the name value and is of the type String. For more complex use cases, where we might want to support more complex types, we can instead extend the more generic class GenericEnumEntity.

Is NLU a part of NLP?

Natural language understanding (NLU), is a subfield of NLP. It is the technology behind the intent recognition. NLU models use syntactic and semantic analysis to comprehend actual meaning and sentiment of human language.

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