Amba Kulkarni

Latest trends in Sanskrit Computational Linguistics

  • Time: 19 July 2018, 17:00–18:30
  • Venue: Room 2.25 ("Seminarraum"), 2nd floor, Institute for the Cultural and Intellectual History of Asia
  • Organisation: Patrick McAllister


The latest trend in computational linguistics is to use data-driven approaches coupled with approaches such as Deep Learning or Deep Neural Net. However Sanskrit is an exception. We rarely find data-driven approaches used for Sanskrit. Sanskrit Computational Linguistics is still dominated by the strong linguistic tradition. This talk will present a survey of the research in this field.

Computational linguists working with Sanskrit have long been attracted to the rich linguistic tradition in India, with its full-fledged grammar for Sanskrit, several lexical resources, the theories of verbal cognition, and texts dwelling on the philosophy of language.

Pāṇini's monumental work, the Aṣṭādhyāyī, presents an almost exhaustive grammar for Sanskrit in meticulous detail, yet small enough to memorize. This grammar is being used as a source for the development of various computational tools for Sanskrit, such as analysers and generators at word and sentence level, tools for joining words following euphonic rules, tools for segmentation, etc.

The set of less than 4000 sūtras in Aṣṭādhyāyī is similar to any computer program with one major difference: the program is written for a human being and not for a machine, thereby allowing some non-formal or semi-formal sūtras which require a human being to interpret them. It has attracted the attention of several computer scientists who study various aspects of it such as its structure, its organisation, means of conflict resolution, and so on.

In addition to the computational tools, several online searchable lexical resources such as Amarakośa, WordNet, Dhātupāṭha are available. All these resources together with computational tools now make the life of a philologist comfortable. These tools and resources provide a natural way to present/generate e-commentaries for various texts.


Professor Amba Kulkarni is Head of the Department of Sanskrit Studies at the University of Hyderabad.