A Short Intro To Transformation in Computational Linguistics With Sanskrit- A Brand New Approach to NLP

  • Computer linguistic
  • NLP for Sanskrit
  • An Indian Contribution
In the past two decades, computational linguistics has evolved swiftly. There are different fields where the use of natural language processing, where a large corpus for natural language is available, has increased. Since an evolving field, computational linguistics has brought up a countless number of research topics in computer science and the field of AI. But, where does Sanskrit, lies between all these technologies, and what is the use?

An Indian Contribution
After an abundance number of researches on the use of Sanskrit Grammar in Computer Science and AI, researchers have noticed Panini's grammar also called Ashtadhyay, can be very useful in many aspects. Panini's grammar has anticipated a lot in Computer Science as like in the Turing machine.
He described Sanskrit in 4,000 sutras or rules, also used a meta-language that has its own structure which can be seen as a form like a computer program or a programming language, where there are expressions and technicalities. So basically Panini had both, a standard language, ie. Sanskrit, and a technical language associated with Sanskrit grammar. There are other areas of studies in that manner like that of Panini, like Patanjali's Mahabhashya, but Panini's grammar turned out to be technically stronger and was not so easy to master, as at that time there was no field of Computer Science where someone can practically see how those structures of grammar can make effects and hence that was the reason why many foreign scholars had given up on Panini's Ashtadhyay(Panini's Grammar) after some points. But in the nineteenth century, some scholars saw how Ashtadhyay anticipated the Turing machine and computer programming.

Why is it so important to consider Sanskrit?
Sanskrit grammar is logical, rule & formula-bound, which makes it highly suitable to write algorithms. The quintessence of the language is from its grammar rules which were written by Maharishi Panini in his book “Astadhyay”. Among all the NL(Natural Languages), Sanskrit is identified to be the best language that has minimum deviation. Maharishi Panini had given 14 formulas in Sanskrit that are called "Siva or Maheshwar-Sutras". The 14 formulas are used to explain Sanskrit in mathematical form. Panini penned nearly 4000 rules for Sanskrit grammar in Astadhyay. These formulas are explained later by Katyayana and Patanjali.

Sanskrit in NLP
While translating different languages, it is very difficult to have 100% accuracy as words can have different meanings. To overcome this problem, there can be a need for rearrangement of words according to grammar. In Sanskrit texts, Karka and Vibhakti are used for parsing which helps to make sentences out of those seven vibhakti. Many researchers have made it possible to create a large text corpus even for Sanskrit. Amba Kulkarni is a well-known name when it comes to Natural language Processing for Sanskrit. She is responsible for major advancement for Sanskrit in NLP, who also provided a toolkit, called “Samsaadhani” for the same. “Gveshika”, the first Sanskrit search engine came out of many of her works.
A lot more people are engaged in developing various tools for the Indian grammatical tradition. There can be more doors open for research areas in Sanskrit in Computational Linguistics.

[2] Sanskrit Sentence Generator: A Prototype by Madhusoodana Pai J Submission date: 25-Jul-2019.

Kirtivardhan Singh
30th October 2020

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