Research in Natural Language Processing (NLP) at UIC focuses on semantics, and discourse and dialogue processing. Our goal is to use NLP to support both education and instruction, and collaboration between human or artificial agents (for those readers who are not familiar with NLP, NLP studies the computational models that underlie the processing of human languages, and develops key technology that makes it possible for users to interact with a computer system using English, Italian or Japanese rather than a programming language).

Our group focuses on the computational modeling of extended text (discourse) and conversations between two or more agents (dialogue). The theoretical aspects of our research concern the linguistic analysis, and the knowledge representation and reasoning that support the understanding and generation of NL discourse and dialogue. The intended applications range from automatically producing instructional manuals (e.g., those that accompany any piece of equipment such as a stereo), to providing dialogue capabilities for Intelligent Tutoring Systems (ITSs), computer based tutors that can help students master a subject. The methodology we employ blends empirical and symbolic approaches, and consists of: data mining from text corpora; development of computational frameworks based on the information extracted from the corpus; and rigorous evaluation of the computational models via user studies.