Dr. Preslav Nakov

Dr. Preslav Nakov - Copy.jpg
Senior Scientist
Arabic Language Technologies
+(974) 4454 1733

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I was excited by the challenge QCRI offered: help build a new world-class institute. I am glad to see it growing as a stimulating international research environment.

Research Focus at QCRI

Preslav's primary research interests include computational linguistics, machine translation, interactive question answering, lexical semantics, Web as a corpus, and biomedical text processing.

At QCRI, he is involved in two main projects. The Iyas project aims to develop a Question Answering system that uses rich linguistic structures to provide answers to complex questions interactively, both in English and in Arabic. The second project focuses on using deep learning and rich linguistic information, e.g., discourse-level analysis, to Statistical Machine Translation and its evaluation.

Previous Experience

Preslav Nakov received a PhD degree in Computer Science from the University of California at Berkeley (supported by a Fulbright grant and a UC Berkeley fellowship), and a MSc degree from the Sofia University. He was a Research Fellow at the National University of Singapore (2008-2011), a honorary lecturer in the Sofia University (2008), research staff at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences (2008), and a visiting researcher at the University of Southern California, Information Sciences Institute (2005).

Preslav Nakov co-authored a Morgan & Claypool book on Semantic Relations between Nominals, two books on computer algorithms, and over 40 research papers in top-tier conferences and journals. He received the Young Researcher Award at RANLP'2011. He was also the first to receive the Bulgarian President's John Atanasoff award, named after the inventor of the first automatic electronic digital computer.

Preslav Nakov is an Associate Editor of the AI Communications journal and an elected member of the SIGLEX board. He served on the program committee of the major conferences and workshops in computational linguistics, including as a co-organizer and an area/publication/tutorial chair; he co-chaired SemEval 2014-2016 and was an area co-chair of *SEM and EMNLP.

Professional Experience

  • National University of Singapore, Research Fellow, 2008-2011
  • Sofia University, Honorary Lecturer, 2008
  • Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Researcher, 2008
  • University of California at Berkeley, Research Assistant, 2003-2007
  • University of Southern California, Information Sciences Institute, summer intern, 2005

Professional Associations and Awards


  • Elected member of the ACL SIGLEX board (2013-present)
  • Journal Editorial Board: AI Communications (since 2015), Guest Editor for LRE (2015), Guest Editor for JNLE (2013)
  • Chair/Organizer: co-chair for SemEval (2014-2016), local co-organizer for EMNLP (2014), co-organizer for RANLP (2011, 2013, 2015), area co-chair for *SEM and EMNLP, track co-chair for AISB'2011, publication chair for AIRS (2010), faculty advisor for the ACL Student Research Workshop (2013), student mentor for ECIR (2016), for ACL (2015), and for the NAACL student workshop (2015), co-chair of shared tasks at SemEval (2007, 2010, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), at DiscoMT (2015), and at LT4VarDial (2015), co-chair of several workshops, including MWE (2009, 2010, 2016), LT4VarDial (2015), RELMS (2011), NLP&LOD (2013), WIEKA (2011), LLMMC (2011)
  • PC member of more than 30 different conferences and workshops (for several years), including ACL, NAACL, EACL, EMNLP, COLING, CoNLL, *SEM, AAAI, IJCAI, IJCNLP, RANLP, CICLING, LREC, KONVENS, AIRS, WMT, MWE
  • Reviewer for more than 20 journals (for several years), among which ACM-TASLP, ACM-TSLP, ACM-TALIP, IEEE-IS, IEEE-TKDE, JAIR, JASIST, AIJ, JNLE, CLJ, DKE, LRE, AI Communications
  • Member of the Association for Computational Linguistics, 2003-present


  • Bulgarian President's John Atanasoff award (named after the inventor of the first automatic electronic digital computer)
  • Young Researcher Award at the RANLP'2011 conference


  • Best metric in the WMT'14 machine translation evaluation competition. 2014. QCRI's Machine Translation evaluation metric DiscoTK performed best in the WMT'14 Metrics task.
  • Best Arabic<->English translation system at IWSLT'13. 2013. QCRI's Arabic-English and English-Arabic systems won the first place at the IWSLT'13 translation tasks according to official metrics.
  • Best unconstrained Spanish->English translation system at WMT'12. 2012. QCRI's Spanish-English system was the best-performing unconstrained system according to human evaluation metrics at WMT'12.


  • Ph.D. in Computer Science, University of California at Berkeley (supported by a Fulbright grant and a UC Berkeley fellowship), December 2007
  • M.Sc. (diploma) in Informatics, Sofia University "St Kliment Ohridski", July 2001


Selected Research

  • Francisco Guzmán, Shafiq Joty, Lluís Màrquez, Preslav Nakov. Pairwise Neural Machine Translation Evaluation. In Proceedings of the 53rd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics and the 7th International Joint Conference on Natural Language Processing (ACL-IJCNLP'15), pp. 805-814, Beijing, China, 2015
  • Shafiq Joty, Alberto Barrón-Cedeño, Giovanni Da San Martino, Simone Filice, Lluís Màrquez, Alessandro Moschitti, Preslav Nakov. Global Thread-level Inference for Comment Classification in Community Question Answering. In Proceedings of the Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP'15), pp. 573-578, Lisbon, Portugal, 2015. http://aclweb.org/anthology/D/D15/D15-1068.pdf
  • Francisco Guzmán, Shafiq Joty, Lluís Màrquez, Preslav Nakov. Using Discourse Structure Improves Machine Translation Evaluation. In Proceedings of the 52nd Annual Meeting of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL'14), pp. 687-698, Baltimore, MD, 2014. https://aclweb.org/anthology/P/P14/P14-1065.pdf
  • Iman Saleh, Scott Cyphers, James R. Glass, Shafiq Joty, Lluís Màrquez, Alessandro Moschitti, Preslav Nakov. A Study of using Syntactic and Semantic Structures for Concept Segmentation and Labeling.
  • In Proceedings of the 25th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING'14), pp. 193-202, Dublin, Ireland, 2014.
  • Vivi Nastase, Preslav Nakov, Diarmuid Ó Séaghdha, Stan Szpakowicz. Semantic Relations Between Nominals. Synthesis Lectures on Human Language Technologies, Morgan & Claypool Publishers 2013, ISBN 9781608459797. http://www.morganclaypool.com/doi/abs/10.2200/S00489ED1V01Y201303HLT019
  • Preslav Nakov, Francisco Guzmán, Stephan Vogel. Optimizing for Sentence-Level BLEU+1 Yields Short Translations. In Proceedimngs of the 24th International Conference on Computational Linguistics (COLING'12), pp. 1979-1994, Mumbai, India, 2012.http://aclweb.org/anthology/C/C12/C12-1121.pdf

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