MDST 311-1 (Schedule # 40410)
University of Virginia
Spring 2006
MWF 11:00-11:50am :: Ruffner Hall G004B
Mr. David Golumbia
Office: 304B Bryan
Spring 2006 Office Hours: MW 9:30-10:30am, W 1:30-2:30pm

Computers and Languages

This course provides a synoptic overview of topics in the study of computers and languages. We will primarily study the major research areas in computational linguistics, including the standard approaches to natural language processing (NLP), corpus linguistics, the computation of the lexicon, of morphology, and of grammar. Following recent trends, we will also read about statistical and probabilistic approaches to language understanding and analysis. Then we will turn to the study of larger spans of linguistic data such as texts and databases. We will also read about the wider impact of computers on the world of languages, and particularly in the ways that computers frame our linguistic interactions with speakers of minority and endangered languages. Satisfies second writing requirement, linguistics requirement for Cognitive Science, and the theory requirement for Linguistics majors. The student's course of study will vary slightly depending on which requirement they are satisfying. Students will choose one research topic relevant to their area of study and present their research at the end of the term, in addition to submitting this research in the form of a paper or project. Students will also write two briefer assignments during the term and, one time, summarize the day's reading for the class. This course presumes basic familiarity with computer concepts and terminology, and/or a previous course in linguistics, but has no other formal prerequisites.

Required textbooks (available at UVa Bookstore)

Secondary texts (not required for purchase; many toolkit selections are derived from these books)

Texts on toolkit and online

Course Requirements

  1. Participation
  2. Presentation 1
  3. Presentation 2
  4. Assignment 1 (due Fri, Feb 27)
  5. Assignment 2 (due Fri, Mar 31)
  6. Assignment 3 (Final assignment, due on the last day of class)



Week-by-Week Syllabus

Note: reading on some Fridays is marked with an asterisk (*). These readings are required only for Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Linguistic Theory and graduate students, and recommended for other students. All readings are either in toolkit or in one of the two textbooks for the course as indicated above.

  1. Course Introduction
  2. Linguistic Issues
  3. Computers in Language History
  4. Overview of NLP
  5. Corpus Linguistics
  6. No classes week of Feb 20-24 (instructor away)
  7. Computing Spoken Language
  8. No classes week of Mar 6-10 (UVa Spring Break)
  9. Computing Words
  10. Computing Grammars
  11. Statistical NLP
  12. Computing Text
  13. Language Politics of Computing
  14. Translation and Pragmatics
  15. Final Presentations and Summary



Last updated April 7, 2006.