Natural Language Understanding

Home Glossary Item Natural Language Understanding
« Back to Glossary Index

Natural Language Understanding (NLU) is a branch of artificial intelligence (AI) that focuses on the interaction between computers and human languages. Specifically, it involves the processing and analysis of human language by a computer program. The primary goal of NLU is to enable machines to understand and respond to input given in natural language in a way that accurately simulates human understanding and communication.


One significant aspect of Natural Language Understanding is its focus on semantics, or the meaning behind the words and sentences. Unlike Natural Language Processing (NLP) which deals with the structure of language, NLU aims at understanding the intent behind the words. This allows NLU models to understand and generate responses that take into account the context, topic, sentiment, and other essential aspects of a conversation.

NLU plays a crucial role in numerous real-world applications that require an understanding of human language. These include virtual assistants (like Siri, Alexa, or Google Assistant), chatbots, sentiment analysis tools, and more. It enables these AI systems to comprehend and handle natural, everyday language from users, rather than requiring specific commands. For example, an NLU-powered virtual assistant can understand and perform tasks from a user’s command, whether it’s to play some music, check the weather, or set a reminder. NLU is a rapidly advancing field, making AI systems progressively more capable of understanding and interacting with humans in a natural, intuitive way.

« Back to Glossary Index