Language processing expert to speak Friday

Hal Daume III featured in Friday’s Distinguished Computational Linguistics Lecture

Hal Daume III

Hal Daumé III, an expert in how language is processed by machines, is the guest speaker for the Distinguished Computational Linguistics Lecture at noon Friday in the Golisano Hall auditorium, room 1400.

His talk, “Natural Language Processing on Creative Content,” will describe the work he’s done in the past two years focusing on plotlines, social relationships and event schema in creative texts. It is free and open to all.

Daumé is an associate professor in computer science at the University of Maryland in College Park. He has published more than 150 papers and his primary research interest is developing new learning algorithms for prototypical problems that arise in the context of language processing and artificial intelligence.

His talk will focus on how information is processed from literature and comic books.

“In a lot of narratives, really what happens isn’t as important as how relationships evolve,” he said. “We’re trying to look at how we can understand how relationships between characters change in the course of a narrative and what that tells us about the underlying plot of the book.”

Processing information from comic books—with dialogue and images in panels—is different, and often inferred.

“When we go from one panel to the next, there’s a lot of missing information that people are expected to fill in, the same as in a movie camera cut,” he said. “Even though the scenes may seem unrelated, your brain fills in the connection.”

Daumé said one benefit to his research will better enable computers and robots to interact with humans.

“If we want computer systems to really understand what’s going on with people and interact with people, we need to know how interpersonal relationships work, how to reason about things that aren’t stated and how the world works,” he said.

His talk would interest people who study language, computer science, artificial intelligence and how these apply to humanities, he said. He credits the work of two of his students, Snigdha Chaturvedi and Mohit Iyyer, for helping with his research.

The talk is sponsored by RIT’s Department of English, the Ph.D. program of the B. Thomas Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences and the digital humanities and social sciences program in the College of Liberal Arts.

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