Piek Vossen

Piek Vossen

Professor of Computational Lexicology, VU Amsterdam

  • Languages and literatures

Prof. Dr. P.Th.J.M. (Piek) Vossen (1960) is full Professor Computational Lexicology at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Head of the Computational Lexicology & Terminology Lab (CLTL), co-founder and co-president of the Global WordNet Assocation (GWA) and member of the Board of the Faculty of Humanities of the Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam (portfolio Research).

In 2013 he won the prestigious Spinoza Award of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) and in 2015 he has been honoured by the Dutch Royal House as a “Knight in the Order of the Dutch Lion”. He is also a member of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen (KNAW) in three domains and a member of the Koninklijke Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen (KHMW).

Piek Vossen studied Dutch and General Linguistics at the University of Amsterdam and received his PhD (cum laude) in Linguistics on Computational Lexicology and Lexicography. He is/has been involved in the many national and international projects, among which: AcquilexEuroWordNetMeaningCornettoDutchSemCorKYOTO and GlobalWordNetGrid. His European NewsReader project developed the ‘History Recorder’, a computer program that ‘reads’ the news each day and precisely records what happened when and where in the world and who was involved. Furthermore he developed 5 research projects with the Spinoza-price: “Understanding of Language by Machines – an escape from the world of language”. He coordinates the project "Make Robots Talk", and the follow-up project "Make Robots Talk and Think" (2020-2024), the NWO project Dutch Framenet and the NWO "Alani" project (2020-2024). He is also Principal Investigator of the Hybrid Intelligence Gravity Project (2020-2030).

For many years he combined his academic career with his work in the industry. He worked at Sail Labs (1999-2001) and as a C.T.O. of Irion Technologies B.V. (2001-2009), where he developed multilingual language technology for many different languages, such as cross-lingual semantic search, text classification, and natural-language dialogue systems.

Vossen published more than 300 (peer reviewed) articles in national and international journals, conference proceedings, book chapters and (hand)books. He has given more than 200 invited keynote talks at several conferences and other occasions, is a regular organizer of and referee for (inter)national conferences and journals, and has served on many scientific, advisory and program committees. He also serves as a member of PhD-committees in the Netherlands as well as abroad. In 2014 he won the Enlighten Your Research Competition 2013.

He is an invited member of several advisory boards and institutes, such as the European Language Resources Association (ELRA), the Centraal Planbureau, the Network InstituteDEFT Events Advisory Board of the Linguistic Data Consortium (LDC), SURFSara, the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) Ontology-Lexica Community Group; he also serves as an expert reviewer for the European Union.

His research interests are WordNets, Computational Lexicon, Ontologies, Computational Linguistics, Language Technology and Computer-Applications, both within a single language and from a multilingual perspective. Vossen is interested in the relation between lexicons and ontologies, from a theoretical point of view as well as from their usage in computer-applications in which meaning and interpretation play a role. He sees the lexicon as a fundamental resource to anchor meaning and interpretation in useful computer behaviour. Computer behaviour can make use of communicative models and insights from communication science. The organization of the lexicon and the knowledge stored in it need to take that usage as a starting point. He combines linguistics and computer science to model understanding of natural language texts by computers.