Natural Language Understanding

Fahrettin Filiz
Jan 28, 2018 · 3 min read

In 5.1 section, we entered the NLP (Natural Language Process). Now we will focus on the NLU (Natural Language Understanding) issue, which is an important and challenging subset of the NLP. You can find my article about NLP from the link below.

NLU is an artificial intelligence language that uses computer software to recognize text or speech sentences.

The NLU provides a direct human-computer interaction. The NLU allows human languages to be understood statically by the computer without the use of if / else. A useful visual about the relationship between NLP and NLU can be seen from the following source.


The purpose of the NLU system is to interpret a text.


The Natural Language Understanding (NLU) covers one of AI’s complex challenges. NLU is used by speech agents, including Alexa, Siri, and Google Assistant. The NLU can digest the spoken text such as “What is the weather forecast for tomorrow?” And then one day later, it can understand the forecast weather at that location as a request.

NLU usage areas can be listed as follows.

In social media interactions
During the course of product recommendation
In creating profiles of content
In financial estimates

We can list the problems that NLU systems deal with.

Ambiguities on the subject; The data may not be mathematically meaningful since it is textual data.

Not complete data; Since the content of the textual content depends on the exact nature of the data, it also poses difficulties in modeling.

The data is ambiguous; Due to the fact that textual data is not numerical, it is difficult to make meaning from texts precisely.

We can list the important systems from the NLU service provider.

IBM Watson Conversation API

Microsoft LUIS

Amazon Lex API API


Historical developments also provide insight into these services. Facebook, Google, Microsoft, IBM and Amazon are important players in this field.


There are studies comparing these different NLU systems. According to a study on this subject, the systems were compared according to the characteristics of intent, entities and the ability to upload data.


In this article we have defined the NLU. We went into the titles of popular NLU systems. You can look at the link below to remember the general headings while the indentation method continues.

Fahrettin Filiz

Written by

constantly-learned engineer (MBA, MSc, PhD Candidate)

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