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Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision

This article describes how natural language processing and computer vision can successfully integrate to solve various data analytic challenges.

Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision


Successful integration and interdisciplinarity processes are keys to thriving modern science and its application within the industry. One such interdisciplinary approach has been the recent endeavors to combine the fields of computer vision and natural language processing. These technical domains are among the most popular - and active - machine learning research sciences that are currently prospering.

Nonetheless, until quite recently, they have been administered as separate technical entities without discovering the key benefits from them both. It has only been recently, with the expansion of digital multimedia, that scientists, and researchers, have begun exploring the possibilities of applying both techniques to accomplish one promising result.

What is Natural Language Processing?

Natural language processing is the capability of a 'smart' computer system to understand human language - as it is both written and spoken. This is commonly referred to as natural language. Natural language processing is a technical component or subset of artificial intelligence.

Natural language processing has existed for well over fifty years, and the technology has its origins in linguistics or the study of human language. It has an assortment of real-world applications within a number of industries and fields, including intelligent search engines, advanced medical research, and business processing intelligence.

How Does Natural Language Processing Work?

Natural language processing facilitates and encourages computers to understand natural language, as we humans can and do. Regardless of whether the language is written or spoken, natural language processing uses artificial intelligence to receive real-life input, process it accordingly, and provide the indicative meaning of the results in a manner that a computer can readily comprehend.

Just as we humans have various natural senses, such as eyes to see with or ears to hear; computers support program instructions to read language text and microphones to collect and analyze audio. Similar to how humans use their brains to process input, computers have a program instruction set to process their inputs and information. After processing occurs, this input is transformed into code that only the computer system can interpret.

There are two main stages to the natural language processing process:

  • Data preprocessing, and

  • Algorithm development.

The data preprocessing stage involves preparing or 'cleaning' the text data into a specific format for computer devices to analyze. The preprocessing arranges the data into a workable format and highlights features within the text. This enables a smooth transition to the next step - the algorithm development stage - which works with that input data without any initial data errors occurring.

Challenges of Natural Language Processing

There are several challenges that natural language processing supplies researchers and scientists with, and they predominantly relate to the ever-maturing and evolving natural language process itself.

Precision, and sometimes the lack of it: Computers have traditionally required humans to communicate with them using a specific language - or a programming language. These programming languages are precise, without ambiguity, and highly structured. However, human speech is not always a precise form of communication; it can be frequently imprecise. The linguistic structure depends on numerous complex variables, including slang, provincial dialects used, and the social context of the spoken language.

Voice tone and inflection: As previously stated, natural language processing is an iterative process striving for perfection. For example, semantic analysis is still a key challenge. Other complications involve the abstract use of language and how this is problematic for such systems to comprehend accurately. Natural language processing cannot readily interpret sarcasm. Also, sentence structure can change meaning depending on which syllable or word the speaker emphasizes or stresses. Natural language algorithms may miss the subtle but important tonal changes within a speaker's voice with speech recognition. Compounding this issue is that the tone and inflection of speech will vary between diverse accents, providing challenges for an algorithm to parse successfully.

The evolution and use of language: Natural language processing is challenged by the reality that human languages - and how different societies use them - are continually changing. While acknowledging specific rules exist for writing and speaking a language, they are subject to adaptation over time. Rigid computational directions and guidelines that work presently may become obsolete as the attributes of real-world languages change.

What is Computer Vision?

Computer vision is the field of study encompassing how computer systems view, witness, and comprehend digital data imagery and video footage. Computer vision spans all of the complex tasks performed by biological vision processes. These include 'seeing' or sensing visual stimulus, comprehending exactly what has been seen and filtering this complex information into a format used for other processes.

This interdisciplinary field automates the key elements of human vision systems using sensors, smart computers, and machine learning algorithms. Computer vision is the technical theory underlying artificial intelligence systems' capability to view - and understand - their surroundings.

Applications of Computer Vision

Numerous examples of computer vision have been practically applied because - by its pure theory - it can be adopted, providing a computer vision system that can 'see' and 'comprehend' its surroundings.

Below are a few key examples of computer vision systems:

Autonomous Vehicles: Self-driving automobiles use CV systems to gather information regarding their surroundings and interpret that data to determine their next actions and behavior.

Robotic Applications: Manufacturing robotic machines using CV, 'view' and 'comprehend' their surroundings to perform their scheduled tasks. In manufacturing, such systems inspect assembly items to determine faults and tolerance limits - simply by 'looking' at them as they traverse the production line.

Image Search and Object Recognition: Applications use CV data vision theory to identify specific objects within digital images, search through catalogs of product images, and extract information from photos.

Facial Recognition: Businesses and Government departments use facial recognition technology (that have adopted CV) to 'see' precisely what an individual is trying to gain access to.

Computer Vision and its Relation to Natural Language Processing

The combination of natural language processing and computer vision involves three key interrelated processes: recognition, reconstruction, and reorganization.

Recognition: This process involves assigning digital labels to objects within the image. Examples of recognition are handwriting or facial recognition for 2D objects, and 3D assignments handle challenges such as moving object recognition which helps in automatic robotic manipulation.

Reconstruction: This process refers to 3D scene rendering given inputs from particular visual images by incorporating multiple viewpoints, digital shading, and sensory depth data. The outcome results in a 3D digital model that is then used for further processing.

Reorganization: This process refers to raw pixel segmentation into data groups that represent the design of a pre-determined configuration. Low-level vision tasks include corner detection, edges, and contours; while high-level tasks involve semantic segmentation, which can partly overlap with recognition processes.

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Natural Language Processing and its Relation to Computer Vision

Natural language processing tasks are deemed more technically diverse when compared to computer vision procedures. This diversification ranges from variable syntax identification, morphology and segmentation capabilities, and semantics to study abstract meaning.

Complex tasks within natural language processing include direct machine translation, dialogue interface learning, digital information extraction, and prompt key summarisation.

However, computer vision is advancing more rapidly in comparison with natural language processing. And this is primarily due to the massive interest in computer vision - and the financial support provided by large tech companies such as Meta and Google.

Future of Integration of Natural Language Processing and Computer Vision

Once completely integrated and combined, these two technologies can resolve numerous challenges that are present within multiple fields, including:

Designing: Within the area of home design, designer clothes, jewelry making, etc., customer systems can understand verbal or written requirements and thereby automatically convert these instructions to digital images for enhanced visualization.

Describing Medical Images: computer vision systems can be trained to identify more modest human ailments and use digital imagery in finer detail than human medical specialists.

Converting Sign Language: to speech or written text to assist the deaf and hard of hearing individuals in interacting with their surroundings. This enhanced capability can ensure their better integration within society.

Surrounding Cognition: Constructing an intelligent system that 'sees' its surroundings and delivers a (recorded) spoken narrative. This outcome will be of use for visually impaired individuals.

Converting Words to Images: Producing intelligent systems that convert spoken content to a digital image may assist people who do not talk and hear.


Unquestionably, the impact of artificial intelligence on our day-to-day life has been immense so far. We utilize this technology in our everyday applications and sometimes without even realizing it. Natural language processing and computer vision have impacted our lives far more than we concede. The world of natural language processing and computer vision continues to evolve daily.

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