Natural language processing (NLP) is a branch of computer science—specifically, a branch of artificial intelligence (AI)—concerning the ability of computers to understand text and spoken words in the same manner that humans can.
NLP combines computational linguistics—rule-based modeling of human language—with statistical, machine learning, and deep learning models. These technologies, when used together, allow computers to process human language in the form of text or speech data and ‘understand’ its full meaning, including the speaker or writer’s intent and sentiment.
NLP is used to drive computer programs that translate text from one language to another, respond to spoken commands, and quickly summarize vast amounts of material—even in real time. Voice-activated GPS systems, digital assistants, speech-to-text dictation software, customer care chatbots, and other consumer conveniences are all examples of NLP in action. But NLP also plays a growing role in enterprise solutions that help streamline business operations, increase employee productivity, and simplify mission-critical business processes.