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. We focus on NLP with a purpose: interfaces and models whose core is NLP technology and that have the potential of positively affecting society. We focus on three main strands of research: a. NL interfaces for educational technology; b. summarization, including for health applications; c. multimodal communication, including human-robot interaction and conversational interfaces for visualization.


Here are some exciting things happening in the UIC NLP Lab!

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 September 2017 22:49
New funding from the National Science Foundation

Prof. Barbara Di Eugenio is co-Principal Investigator on a new NSF award that will support the lab work on human-robot interaction. The award is  titled "An Interaction Manager for Language and Force Exchanges in Human-Robot Physical Collaboration", and the PI is Prof Miloš Zefran, of ECE (UIC). The grant started on Aug 1, 2017 and will last three years.

Abstract: This project will develop a computational and data-driven framework for a robot assistant to collaborate with humans in everyday tasks that involve physical interaction, such as handing over or moving an object together. Using models learned from observing humans perform such tasks, the robot will engage in back-and-forth communication, where turns can be both spoken utterances and force exchanges. Robots that can collaborate to perform physical tasks could provide assistance in a variety of settings, such as performing household chores, supporting the elderly to remain independent, and assisting human workers on the factory floor.

The transformative idea of the proposal is to generalize the methodology of dialog processing to include physical interaction. The fundamental challenge is how to bridge the gap between the symbolic processing of language and the low-level control of force exchanges. The concept of interaction primitives (IPs) is introduced to model physical interactions. Further, a planning and execution framework in the form of an interaction manager is proposed. The proposed interaction manager broadens the traditional dialogue modeling paradigm so that information can flow from more abstract to lower levels, and vice versa: language affects physical interaction, and physical interaction affects what is said. To build the interaction manager, a targeted data collection where humans perform tasks of interest will be performed. Since physical interaction data is invariably sparse, statistical learning on the data will be complemented by model-based generalizations, allowing robots to collaborate with humans in highly variable and unstructured environments. The research will inform new course development, and involve several undergraduate and graduate students.

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 September 2017 23:17
Nick Green defends his PhD thesis (March 2, 2017)

Nick Green successfully defended his PhD thesis, titled: "Example Based Pedagogical Strategies in a Computer Science Intelligent Tutoring System"

His committee included: Barbara Di Eugenio (advisor), Tom Moher (CS, UIC), Ugo Buy (CS, UIC), Davide Fossati (CS, UIC), Patrick Seeling (CS, Central Michigan University)

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 September 2017 22:52
Rachel Harsley defends her PhD (March 1, 2017)

Rachel Harsley successfully defended her PhD thesis, titled: "Supporting Effective Collaborative Learning in A Computer Science Intelligent Tutoring System"

Her committee included: Barbara Di Eugenio (advisor), Tom Moher (CS, UIC), Susan Goldman (LAS, Psychology and Education, UIC), Cynthia Taylor (CS, UIC), Davide Fossati (CS, UIC), Tiffany Barnes (CS, UIC)



Last Updated on Thursday, 20 April 2017 18:26
Sabita Acharya Receives "50 for the Future" Award from the Illinois Technology Foundation

Sabita Acharya received the prestigious "50 for the Future" award from the Illinois Technology Foundation.

The annual event, Fifty for the Future®, continues to build awareness of the talent of tomorrow for the Illinois technology ecosystem. The program, currently in its 10th year, recognizes the best and brightest technology students in the state. (illinoistechfoundation.org)

Last Updated on Thursday, 20 April 2017 17:26
Rachel Harsley is honored by NSBE with a Golden Torch award & wins an ACM-W fellowship

Rachel Harsley, Ph.D. candidate in Computer Science, was selected as the Golden Torch Award recipient for Graduate Student of the Year by the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). NSBE is one of the largest student-run organizations in the United States with more than 30,000 members world-wide. The award is based on academic achievement, extracurricular activities, and personal accomplishments and demonstrated leadership in engineering or other technical fields. Each year, through the Golden Torch Awards, NSBE honors individuals, companies, and institutions that have produced a consistent body of highly distinguished work, served as role models for others, and advanced opportunities for African Americans within their industry. The awards ceremony will take place this Spring in Kansas City, MO at the NSBE National Convention.

Additionally, Rachel was awarded an ACM-W fellowship to attend the ACM SIGCSE 2017 conference in Seattle, WA (March 2017). There, Rachel will present the paper "Interactions of Individual and Pair Programmers with an Intelligent Tutoring System for Computer Science" (Rachel Harsley, Davide Fossati, Barbara Di Eugenio and Nick Green).

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