GUCL: Computational Linguistics @ Georgetown

Courses

Overview of CL course offerings
Document listing courses in CS, Linguistics, and other departments that are most relevant to students interested in computational linguistics. Includes estimates of when each course will be offered.

COSC-483/LING-463 | Dialogue Systems

Matthew Marge Upperclass Undergraduate & Graduate

Nearly all of us interact with dialogue systems -- from calling up banks and hotels, to talking with intelligent assistants like Siri, Alexa, or Cortana, dialogue systems enable people to get tasks done with software agents using language. Since the interaction is bi-directional, we must consider the fundamentals of how people engage in conversation so as to manage users’ expectations and track how information is exchanged in dialogue. Dialogue systems require an array of technologies to come together for them to work well, including speech recognition, natural language understanding, dialogue management, natural language generation, and speech synthesis. This course will explore what makes dialogue systems effective in commercial and research applications (ranging from personal assistants and chatbots to embodied conversational agents and language-directed robots) and how this contrasts with everyday human-human dialogue.

This course will introduce students to the fundamentals of dialogue systems, expanding on technologies and algorithms that are used in today’s dialogue systems and chatbots. There will also be emphasis on the psycholinguistic properties of human conversation (turn-taking, grounding) so as to prepare students for designing effective, user-friendly dialogue systems. The course will also include examining datasets and dialogue annotations used to train dialogue systems with machine learning algorithms. Coursework will consist of lectures, writing and programming assignments, and student-led presentations on special topics in dialogue. A final project will give students a chance to build their own dialogue system using open source and freely available software. This course is intended for students that are already comfortable with limited amounts of programming (in Python).

COSC-488 | Information Retrieval

Nazli Goharian Upperclass Undergraduate & Graduate

Information retrieval is the identification of textual components, be them web pages, blogs, microblogs, documents, medical transcriptions, mobile data, or other big data elements, relevant to the needs of the user. Relevancy is determined either as a global absolute or within a given context or view point. Practical, but yet theoretically grounded, foundational and advanced algorithms needed to identify such relevant components are taught.

The Information-retrieval techniques and theory, covering both effectiveness and run-time performance of information-retrieval systems are covered. The focus is on algorithms and heuristics used to find textual components relevant to the user request and to find them fast. The course covers the architecture and components of the search engines such as parser, index builder, and query processor. In doing this, various retrieval models, relevance ranking, evaluation methodologies, and efficiency considerations will be covered. The students learn the material by building a prototype of such a search engine. These approaches are in daily use by all search and social media companies.

COSC-586 | Text Mining & Analysis

Nazli Goharian Graduate

This course covers various aspects and research areas in text mining and analysis. Text may be a document, query, blog, tag description, etc. The structure of the course is a combination of lectures & students' presentations. The lectures will cover Text/Web/query classification, information extraction, word sense disambiguation, opinion mining & sentiment analysis, query log analysis, ontology extraction and integration, and more. The students are assigned a related topic in the field for further study and presentation in the class.

COSC/LING-672 | Advanced Semantic Representation

Nathan Schneider Graduate

Natural language is an imperfect vehicle for meaning. On the one hand, some expressions can be interpreted in multiple ways; on the other hand, there are often many superficially divergent ways to express very similar meanings. Semantic representations attempt to disentangle these two effects by exposing similarities and differences in how a word or sentence is interpreted. Such representations, and algorithms for working with them, constitute a major research area in natural language processing.

This course will examine semantic representations for natural language from a computational/NLP perspective. Through readings, presentations, discussions, and hands-on exercises, we will put a semantic representation under the microscope to assess its strengths and weaknesses. For each representation we will confront questions such as: What aspects of meaning are and are not captured? How well does the representation scale to the large vocabulary of a language? What assumptions does it make about grammar? How language-specific is it? In what ways does it facilitate manual annotation and automatic analysis? What datasets and algorithms have been developed for the representation? What has it been used for? Representations covered in depth will include FrameNet (http://framenet.icsi.berkeley.edu), Universal Cognitive Conceptual Annotation (http://www.cs.huji.ac.il/~oabend/ucca.html), and Abstract Meaning Representation (http://amr.isi.edu/). Term projects will consist of (i) innovating on a representation's design, datasets, or analysis algorithms, or (ii) applying it to questions in linguistics or downstream NLP tasks.

LING-362 | Introduction to Natural Language Processing

Amir Zeldes Upperclass Undergraduate & Graduate

This course will introduce students to the basics of Natural Language Processing (NLP), a field which combines insights from linguistics and computer science to produce applications such as machine translation, information retrieval, and spell checking. We will cover a range of topics that will help students understand how current NLP technology works and will provide students with a platform for future study and research. We will learn to implement simple representations such as finite-state techniques, n-gram models and basic parsing in the Python programming language. Previous knowledge of Python is not required, but students should be prepared to invest the necessary time and effort to become proficient over the course of the semester. Students who take this course will gain a thorough understanding of the fundamental methods used in natural language understanding, along with an ability to assess the strengths and weaknesses of natural language technologies based on these methods.

LING-367 | Computational Corpus Linguistics

Amir Zeldes Upperclass Undergraduate & Graduate

Digital linguistic corpora, i.e. electronic collections of written, spoken or multimodal language data, have become an increasingly important source of empirical information for theoretical and applied linguistics in recent years. This course is meant as a theoretically founded, practical introduction to corpus work with a broad selection of data, including non-standardized varieties such as language on the Internet, learner corpora and historical corpora. We will discuss issues of corpus design, annotation and evaluation using quantitative methods and both manual and automatic annotation tools for different levels of linguistic analysis, from parts-of-speech, through syntax to discourse annotation. Students in this course participate in building the corpus described here: https://corpling.uis.georgetown.edu/gum/

COSC/LING-572 | Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing

Nathan Schneider Graduate

Systems of communication that come naturally to humans are thoroughly unnatural for computers. For truly robust information technologies, we need to teach computers to unpack our language. Natural language processing (NLP) technologies facilitate semi-intelligent artificial processing of human language text. In particular, techniques for analyzing the grammar and meaning of words and sentences can be used as components within applications such as web search, question answering, and machine translation.

This course introduces fundamental NLP concepts and algorithms, emphasizing the marriage of linguistic corpus resources with statistical and machine learning methods. As such, the course combines elements of linguistics, computer science, and data science. Coursework will consist of lectures, programming assignments (in Python), and a final team project. The course is intended for students who are already comfortable with programming and have some familiarity with probability theory.

Other spring courses TBA.