Analyzing and interpreting neural networks for NLP

Revealing the content of the neural black box: workshop on the analysis and interpretation of neural networks for Natural Language Processing.


The workshop will be collocated with EMNLP 2020.

News (March 2): Development models for the shared task have been announced.

Important dates (updated!)

Workshop description

Neural networks have rapidly become a central component in NLP systems in the last few years. The improvement in accuracy and performance brought by the introduction of neural networks has typically come at the cost of our understanding of the system: How do we assess what the representations and computations are that the network learns? The goal of this workshop is to bring together people who are attempting to peek inside the neural network black box, taking inspiration from machine learning, psychology, linguistics, and neuroscience. The topics of the workshop will include, but are not limited to:

BlackboxNLP 2020 is the third BlackboxNLP workshop. The programme and proceedings of the previous editions, which were held at EMNLP 2018 and ACL 2019, can be found here and here.

The call for papers text is available here.


Afra Alishahi

Afra Alishahi ( is an Associate Professor of Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence at Tilburg University, the Netherlands. Her main research interest is developing computational models for studying the process of human language acquisition. Recently she has been studying the emergence of linguistic structure in grounded models of language learning. She has chaired CoNLL 2015, and organized the EACL Workshop on Cognitive Aspects of Computational Language Acquisition in 2009, and co-organized the first edition of BlackboxNLP.

Yonatan Belinkov

Yonatan Belinkov ( is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). His recent research focuses on representations of language in neural network models, with applications in machine translation and speech recognition. His research has been published at ACL, EMNLP, TACL, ICLR, and NeurIPS. His PhD dissertation at MIT analyzed internal language representations in deep learning models.

Grzegorz Chrupała

Grzegorz Chrupała ( is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence at Tilburg University. His research focuses on computational models of language learning from multimodal signals such as speech and vision and on the analysis and interpretability of representations emerging in multilayer neural networks. His work has appeared in venues such as Computational Linguistics, ACL, EMNLP and CoNLL. He has served as area chair for ACL, EMNLP and CoNLL and he co-organized the first edition of BlackboxNLP.

Dieuwke Hupkes

Dieuwke Hupkes ( is a PhD student at the University of Amsterdam. The main focus of her research is understanding how recurrent neural networks can understand and learn the structures that occur in natural language. Developing methods to interpret and interact with neural networks has therefore been an important area of focus in her research. She authored 5 articles directly relevant to the workshop, one of them published in a top AI journal (Journal of Artificial Intelligence), and she is co-organizing a workshop on compositionality, neural networks, and the brain, held at the Lorentz Center in the summer of 2019.

Yuval Pinter

Yuval Pinter ( is a PhD student at Georgia Institute of Technology. His main focus is on word-level representations in deep learning systems. He authored two papers on the topic of NLP neural model interpretation in 2019, including one at BlackboxNLP. In addition to regularly serving on program committees for NLP and AI venues, he co-organized the TREC LiveQA competition for its three years of existence (2015–2017), and served as publicity and social media co-chair at NAACL 2019.

Hassan Sajjad

Hassan Sajjadd ( is a research scientist at the Arabic Language Technologies group, Qatar Computing Research Institute - HBKU. His recent research focuses on developing methods to analyze and interpret neural network models both at the representation-level and at the individual neuron-level. His work on the analysis of deep models is recognized at various prestigious research venues such as ACL, NAACL, ICLR, and AAAI.

Workshop program


Invited speakers


Shared Interpretation Mission

BlackboxNLP 2020 will include a shared interpretation mission. Details available here.

Paper submission

We accept two types of papers

Both papers and abstracts should follow the official EMNLP 2020 style guidelines and should be submitted via softconf:

Accepted submissions will be presented at the workshop: most as posters, some as oral presentations (determined by the program committee).

Dual submissions

Dual submissions with the main conference are allowed, but authors must declare dual submission by entering the paper’s main conference submission id. The reviews for the submission for the main conference will be automatically forwarded to the workshop and taken into consideration when your paper is evaluated. Authors of dual-submission papers accepted to the main conference should retract them from the workshop by September 15.

Program committee

Anti-Harassment Policy

BlackboxNLP 2020 adheres to the ACL Anti-Harassment Policy.