Authors:  Sowmya Vajjala, Bodhisattwa Majumder, Anuj Gupta, Harshit Surana
Publisher:  O’Reilly
Publication Date:  July 7, 2020
Publication Link
Prerequisites: Some Python

About This Book

This was a highly regarded book when it came out in the summer of 2020, and I can see why. It’s the generalist’s guide to NLP, a high-level overview of the entire field. If you want to learn about natural language processing, this is where you start. There are books to read after this one, but this is your foundation.

Who Is This For?

The authors intent this book to be for anyone who is interested in or working in the field. However, they also have a list of prerequisites they want you to have to gain the maximum value from the book: an intermediate level of Python, knowledge of the general software development life cycle, a basic knowledge of machine learning, and some general knowledge of what NLP is. I can see where these can be useful, but I also agree with the authors that these are not completely necessary.

Why Was This Written?

The authors wrote this book to fill a perceived gap between what previous books offered versus what they think is required for working with natural language in production. From what I have seen from other books, I can agree.

Organization

The macrostructure of this book is well thought out and is broken up into four parts: foundations, essentials, applied, and bringing it all together. I really like these sections and how they include a map of reading order in the preface. This is useful when you already have a little bit of knowledge and want to see how best to skip around without missing anything.

Within the chapters, each one is different, but all end with a wrapping up section to summarize the chapter and give all the references. Having a summary at the end is great for helping the reader retain the information they just read. I never understood why some technical books leave this out.

Did This Book Succeed?

Yes, very much so. This is a foundational book for anyone learning natural language processing that paves the way for more detailed books when you want to drill down and specialize. It’s well laid out and easy to navigate. This should be on the bookshelf of anyone working in artificial intelligence.

Rating and Final Thoughts

This book is step one to learning natural language processing and has earned all of the accolades it has been given. Buy this book and read through it to have a thorough understanding of the field without getting stuck in the details.

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