NLI 2020: First Workshop on Natural Language Interfaces

at ACL 2020, July 10, 2020.


Natural language interfaces (NLIs) have been the “holy grail” of human-computer interaction and information search for decades. However, early attempts in building NLIs to databases did not achieve the expected success due to limitations in language understanding capability, extensibility and explainability, among others. The last 5 years have seen a major resurgence of NLIs in the form of virtual assistants, dialogue systems, and semantic parsing and question answering systems. The horizon of NLIs has also been significantly expanding beyond databases to, e.g., knowledge bases, robots, Internet of Things, Web service APIs, and more.

This has been driven by a number of profound revolutions: (1) In the big data era, and as digitalization continues to grow, there is a rapidly growing demand for interfaces that connect users to the ever-expanding data sources, services and devices in the computing world. NLIs represent a very promising technology to accomplish that as they provide users with a unified way to interact with the entire computing world using language, their natural way of communication, and (2) the renaissance and development of deep learning have brought us from rule and feature engineering to a world of neural architecture and data engineering, promising better language understanding, adaptability and scalability. As a result, many commercial systems like Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, and Microsoft Cortana, as well as academic studies on NLIs to a wide range of backends have emerged in recent years.

Many research communities have been advancing NLI technologies in recent years: NLP and machine learning, data management and databases, programming language, human-machine interaction, among others. This workshop aims to bring together researchers and practitioners from related communities to review the recent advances and revisit the challenges that led to the failure of earlier NLI systems, and discuss what the remaining challenges are and what to expect in the short- and long-term future


All deadlines are 11:59 PM Pacific time.

Invited Speakers

invited speakers

Details about the speakers and talks can be found here.


This workshop aims to bring together researchers and practitioners from different communities related to NLIs. As such, the workshop welcomes and covers a wide range of topics around NLIs, including (non-exclusively):



The workshop is organized by Ahmed Hassan Awadallah (Microsoft Research), Yu Su (OSU/Microsoft Semantic Machines),Huan Sun (OSU), and Scott Wen-tau Yih (Facebook AI Research).

For any questions, please email


NLI 2020 will be held online, co-located with ACL 2020. The virtual workshop page is here (conference registration required).