I had an academic visitor last week, who I hadnt seen in 15 years; he had worked in NLG 20 years ago and then moved to other fields. After some general catchup, my colleague asked me what NLG research I was working on and hoped to work on. In other words, what did I personally find really exciting and valuable in NLG research in 2017? A good question, I summarise my response below. Note that I am focusing on my academic interest and research at the University of Aberdeen. I cannot say much about my work at Arria in a public forum, because of commercial confidentiality. However, most of these research topics are also commercially relevant, as described below.
Please note that this is a personal research statement, about topics which I personally find really exciting and want to work on! Other people will undoubtedly will find other topics more exciting, which is great; the NLG field will make more progress if its researchers pursue a variety of interests, instead of all jumping on the same bandwagon.
Text and Graphics
If we want to communicate information to people, when is it best to use words, and when is it better to use a visualisation? How can words and visualisations be combined to get the best of both worlds? How should users interact with a multimodal text+graphics system?
This is a really fascinating academic and intellectual question, which raises deep questions about when language is the best way to communicate, and when it isnt. Its also a very important question in applied/commercial NLG. As above I cannot say much about my Arria work here, but it is a matter of public record that I have an Arria patent on Method and apparatus for annotating a graphical output.