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Kimmo Koskenniemi

Kimmo Matti Koskenniemi
Born September 7, 1945, Jyväskylä

Master of Science 1967 (mathematics), Licentiate (general linguistics and computer science), PhD 1984 (general linguistics), University of Helsinki

Professor of computational linguistics/ language technology 1991–2012, University of Helsinki
Senior research fellow 1985–90, Academy of Finland, University of Helsinki
Senior programmer 1981–84, Academy of Finland, University of Helsinki
Mathematician, section manager and research associate 1967–80, University of Helsinki Computing Centre.

Research themes:
Automatic morphological analysis, i.e. the recognition of word forms and the application of the methods to historical linguistics as well as to dialects and to language forms which are old or which otherwise display variation.


Written by Kimmo Koskenniemi (Olli Siitonen ed.)
Translated by Matthew Billington

Administration, Funding and International Activity

After moving to the humanities and receiving a professorship, I was first chosen, presumably on the basis of my computing background, to the board of the University Computing Centre, and then I was named chairman of the University IT Management Group. I served between 1996 and 1998, after which I remained a member for the following two years. It fell to me to propose an IT management strategy for the University and the reorganisation of its IT services. In line with my proposal, the University moved towards the development data networks. This stage involved interesting discussions with the top management of the University. Nevertheless, the most memorable occasion was when I justified the organisational change to a meeting of around 100 IT staff, who were clearly opposed to the change

Between 2001 and 2007, the nationwide KIT-network for teaching language technology was partly financed through special funding from the Ministry of Education, after which in continued as a joint venture between universities and other partners. Every university that offered education related to the area was involved in the network. The beginning of the funding process was interesting because we lived in a time of budget cuts. I first organised a meeting where I invited colleagues from different universities and disciplines who I knew were working in related fields. We drew up a joint memorandum on the importance of the issue. I marched over to the Rector, Kari Raivio, with this document, and he reacted positively by agreeing to provide starting capital. With this information I proceeded to the Ministry of Education, which quickly established a working group. In six months a memorandum was produced on the expansion of language technology education (1999), and the KIT-network began at the start of 2001.

After launching nationwide undergraduate education in language technology, it was natural to establish a doctoral school for PhD students: the KIT Doctoral School, which operated as an independent entity for two four-year periods, 2002–05 and 2006–09, and thereafter as a programme within the nationwide Langnet Doctoral Programme. Simultaneous to the establishment of the KIT Doctoral School, the Nordic Graduate School of Language Technology, covering the Nordic countries and the Baltic states, was founded together with the University of Gothenburg. The Graduate School facilitated the organisation and funding of international PhD courses.

I founded the Northern European Association for Language Technology (NEALT) in 2006. NEALT attends to the regular organisation of Nordic language technology conferences (Nordiska Datalingvistikdagarna, NODALIDA). These were previously organised on an ad hoc basis, but now NEALT ensures the quality and continuation of the conferences. I worked until the end of 2009 as NEALTs chairman.

In 2006, after some individual EU projects connected to language matters, it was time for CLARIN (Common Language Resources and Technologies Infrastructure), a large-scale language infrastructure project. For my part, I set about promoting Finnish participation in CLARIN and organising the whole execution of the project. With the help of the Academy of Finland, the Ministry of Education and the University of Helsinki, we quickly got the necessary national infrastructure up and running: FIN-CLARIN, to which belong all universities in the discipline, the Institute for the Languages of Finland and the CSC-IT Center for Science.

Fred Karlsson and Kimmo Koskenniemi, accompanied by their spouses, follow a seminar arranged in their honour in June 2012. Photo: the Department of Modern Languages/ Ville Korhonen


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