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knowledge central development

Not everything is square

A square is a great match within a set of other squares, but the real world contains many shapes and forms. Not everything can be solved along straight horizontal and vertical lines, especially in those places where technology attempts to handle natural language.

Van den Heuvel Consultancy helps with the hard problems, like those having to do with language and technology. I help you make your software language aware. I use an approach that I call beyond thinking straight.

Here is an animation to give you an impression of what we do

Call +31 6 25492788 or use the contact form. I work from the Nijmegen area in the Netherlands and I do not mind traveling.

What can I do for you?

Move the mouse over the diagram to see what I have accomplished in different domains. Click on areas for examples. The overview is not exhaustive, but it is probably enought to give you a gist of what I can do for you, even if your organisation fits none of the descriptions in the diagram.

If you have questions on the information you see, you may want to call me at
+31 6 25492788
or leave a remark in the contact form below.

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How can I help you?

If you face a challenge and you believe it might be solved by thinking outside the rectangular box, let us discuss how we could attempt meeting that challenge by going “beyond thinking straight”. A comprehensive analysis of the problem in my view is an essential start. For this analysis I use my experience in math, language technology, IT, management, and so on. A solution can take the form of advice on existing tools, open or closed source, technology, frameworks, libraries, standards and paradigms. It can also take the form of course material, a prototype or proof-of-concept, or even a final product.

I make sure that the analysis is presented in a form that is understandable and applicable for all involved. It is possible that some education is helpful, for example to introduce new methods of working.

Who am I?

Hello, my name is Theo van den Heuvel. I love language, mathematics and IT. I consider myself an R&D expert, a computer scientist, a teacher and a coach.
My paternal grandfather was an extremely brave entrepreneur, who, as a young man, broke with the family business to set up a business of his own, which still thrives today. My maternal grandfather, was a headmaster and a bit of an inventor too. Great men, the both of them and I hope I inherited their talents.

Mail me for a recent résumé.

Don't panic!

Sit down. Have some water. Follow my breathing.

If your panic is related to a project, you may want to call me at
+31 6 25492788
or leave a remark in the contact form below.

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language

Language is what runs your company. It is what your clients hear from you and about you and what you hear from them. Management is communication. Marketing is communication. Language is the foundation of society. Language is also very hard to catch within any automated framework.

Are you a software producer? With the right mix of technology, I can make search a very effective instrument, either within your organisation or in your software product. Is text or speech relevant to you in another way? Maybe you are developing translation software. I know I can help you with that.

Are you a publisher? In electronic publishing it is crucial that the customer has the right set of tools for navigation and search. This requires a consistent conversion of content to an accessible format. If you are an educational publisher, I can help you go beyond simple multiple choice testing.

I know about specific languages and language in general.

IT

Although the name computer suggests numerical operations, much of the information floating over the internet is textual in nature. Natural language is particularly hard for computers. It takes advanced specialized techniques to create effective language oriented solutions. It helps to go “beyond thinking straight” to create such solutions, or to massage existing tools into working effectively on your materials. I can do that for you.

mathematics

Mathematics is the language of certainty. This language is extended whenever new problems pop up, where each new term is firmly rooted in existing knowledge. I can apply the same technique to your problem. Whenever you are thinking about a new approach or strategy and find yourself asking questions like: “how do we know we are done?”, as one of my clients did, I may be able to help you much like I helped them.

Human Language Technology (HLT)

In language there are very few straight lines and right angles. Language is hard. Whenever a tool set considers written language as just a sequence of characters or spoken language as a sequence of energy bursts, this tool is practically worthless. HLT is the common name for all software techniques that attempt to make sense of language. They can help you to make use of much of the knowledge hidden in your text materials, or harvest information that is implicit in aural communication.

I can make written and spoken texts work for you. I have past experience in spelling and grammar checking, search, text mining, text generation and most other areas of HLT.

Modeling and visualisation

Mathematics is about creating a model for aspects of reality. With the right model it becomes possible to create an intuitive and appealing graphical representation of facts. For a company that uses big data to measure psychological and cultural metrics in text, I realised a model that lead to a range of visual representations. Carefully chosen visuals allows for serendipity: it allows the human brain to see patterns that the software cannot possibly predict. In that way you maximize the effectiveness of the process.

data and algorithms

Exponential growth in computing speed have made it possible to process enormous amounts of data in a fraction of a second. So, where to start? How to see relations in a vast pool of data? Given a suitable model of the data it becomes possible to create visual form that is intuitive. This is particularly true for language data. The feasibilty of complex processes on large amounts of data depends on a clever selection of algorithms. I can do that for you.

Language is the gate to knowledge

In practise it is not easy to automatically glean knowledge from text or to create readable texts from knowledge that is sublimated in databases. I can help you make tools language aware. For example, with the aid of sentiment analysis it is possible to get an clear impression on what the authors of texts appreciate and what they are unhappy about. Clever search tools help us go beyond finding texts that contain some word or combination of words and find texts that satisfy criteria in terms of subject area or that contain words in specific linguistic relations.

Publishers

A publisher who is making the transition to electronic publishing, we can help with our knowledge of XML, EPUB3 and related technologies. Here we can build on experience from work in reading disabilities.

Educational publishers, we can support in creating tools that go beyond multiple choice. I have done a project for the Dutch Language Union (Nederlandse Taalunie) that concerned demonstrations of some innovative techniques.

Publishers of reference works we can help to make their materials easily accessible and searchable.

Publishers of language related materials, like monolingual dictionaries, we can provide with spelling tools to put the dictionary to work for its users. Here we build on experience gained within Polderland in building proofing tools for clients like Microsoft.

Software producers

If you are a producer of software that operates on language, we can help you with things like proofing tools (spelling, grammar checking), search, and more advanced components like named entity recognition, sentiment analysis or plagiarism detection. Remember, in language nothing is easy, not even hyphenation (cutting words at new lines). We can do that sort of thing for you.

Libraries, archives, registers

In collections in which running text occurs, search is both essential and very hard to get right. Text collections have to deal with spelling varieties over the years, as well as ordinary spelling mistakes. Many words and abbreviations have multiple meanings. As a result, a search is likely to come up with a lot of false hits. We have relevant experience, for example from the Phasar project in Nijmegen, that aimed at providing solutions to many of the challenges involved in search.

Search becomes particularly difficult in a multilingual setting and harder still if different scripts are involved. I can help with that.

complex organisations

Organisations hosting complex information streams can benefit from an analysis to create an explicit description relating functionality of the organistion to the communication nodes. We have seen that this proves enlightning for the management. Surprisingly, we have heard managers of very different organisations complain that they really did not understand how their organisation actually works. I have gone “beyond thinking straight” before to make communication lines explicit in a financial organisation.

educational organisations

In my view, software for language education and second language teaching are in their infancy. This is due to the intrinsic difficulty of language technology. As a result of restrictions in present techniques, most software will not go beyond multiple choice in the interaction with the pupil. Much of the scoring of the open questions (not only in language education) are necessarily left to human correctors. I am sure we can do better than that. There have been some experiments with more advanced automatic scoring methods and a wider form of interaction with language learners. We can help find a solid middle ground and possibly raise the bar a bit. This is especially important in second langauge learning, where ample possibilites for exercise are helpful in attaining the learning goals, and exemplary native speakers are not always available.

research institutes and R&D departments

We can help research organisations in high quality search tools. Organisations that spend effort on R&D, we can help in several ways. If the research involves written or spoken language, we can provide a proof of concept, or even move towards a complete software product, as we did for Semantix and Dedicon in the Netherlands. In industry or science, we can use our experience in computer science and math to create greenfield software solutions.

changing organisations

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