Evolution of NLP Techniques based on the Google Books Corpus

Great Ideas in current Computer Science Research

Computer Science (CS) Research is an emergent and exciting area. Classical parts of CS are being reshaped to fit a more modern concept of computing. One domain that is experiencing a renaissance is Natural Language Processing (NLP). Classical NLP tasks are being expanded to include time-series information allowing us to capture evolutionary dynamics, and not just static information.  For example, the word “bitch” was historically synonymous with a female dog, and more recently became (pejoratively) synonymous with the word “feminist.”

ACM BLOG IMG1Fig1:  The Trend of “Feminist” Over Time and Its Close Relatives

Traditional thesauruses do not contain information on when this synonymy was generated, nor the surrounding events that gave rise to this. This additional information about the historicity of the linguistic change is so innovative that it blurs the boundary between disparate disciplines: NLP and Computational Linguistics. This added dimension also allows us to challenge the foundations of traditional NLP research.

Language is the foundation of civilization. The story of the Tower of Babel in the Bible describes language as the uniting force among humanity, the key to its technological advancement and ability to become like G-d. Speaking one same language, Babel’s inhabitants were able to work together to develop a city and build a tower high enough to reach heaven. Seeing this, G-d mixes up their language, taking away the source of the inhabitants’ power by breaking down their mutual understanding. This story illustrates the power and cultural significance of universal language. Continue reading

Build your own Natural Language Processing based Intelligent Assistant using Python, It’s easy!

Before we begin, let us talk about how Mike (a fictional character) spends a typical morning. Mike begins his day by searching for breakfast recipes on Google Now (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Now). After a filling breakfast, Mike starts getting ready for work. He asks Siri (http://www.apple.com/in/ios/siri/) to tell him the weather and traffic conditions for his drive to work. Finally, as Mike gets ready to leave the house, he asks Alexa (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amazon_Alexa) to dim the lights and thermostat. It is not even 10 a.m. yet, but Mike like many of us has already used three intelligent personal assistant applications using Natural Language Processing (NLP). We will unravel the mysteries of building intelligent personal assistants with a simple example to build such an assistant quite easily using NLP.

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How do students differ in gamified education?


Gamification of University-level courses is becoming a common practice, as many professors decide to try offering their students a more engaging learning environment. Nevertheless, we still do not have a clear idea on how individual students engage differently with a gamified course. But now a detailed, long-term study from the University of Lisbon has presented some insightful observations on this topic.

During the course of their study, the researchers observed three editions of a gamified University of Lisbon course on Multimedia Content Production. The course employed a blended learning method that combined theoretical lectures, lab classes, and an online Moodle component where students engaged in discussions and completed online assignments.

Throughout the years, the researchers have learned from the experience and improved the course’s gameful design. A general observation from the student’s feedback is that they all felt the gamified course was indeed more engaging than the previous non-gamified editions. However, there were some noticeable differences on how individual students engaged with the course, which the researchers sought to investigate.

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The Surface Dial and the Physical/Digital Divide in Interactions

Microsoft announced their new Surface Studio this week. It acts as an all-in-one computer, but with a modular screen that can be re-positioned to act as a drawing tablet. The idea of a computer screen that works as a drawing tablet is nothing new. Wacom and other companies have been producing devices like this for years. What’s new about this is the fact that Microsoft has made the screen an integral part of the computing device, rather than a peripheral that can be added later if needed.


The Surface Studio. (Image Credit: https://news.microsoft.com/surface-studio-2/)

By doing this, Microsoft is bringing a novel interactive technique to a wider audience. Starting at $3,000, a fairly wealthy audience, but still, comparable in price to a high-end Wacom tablets + a professional graphic artist computer.

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