Introduction to Computational Linguistics

Introduction to Computational Linguistics (without Programming!)
Ling 5800/3800

Fall 2015

Professor: Martha Palmer
Office Phone: 303-492-1300 (2-1300 from on-campus phones)
Office Hours: Wed, Fri 4-5pm (or by appt), Hellems 295

Time and Location: MWF 3-3:50, MCOL E186
Course Credit: 3 credit hours

Theme: Welcome to the Introduction to Computational Linguistics, also known as Natural Language Processing - the field that has brought us Watson, Siri, and Google Language Tools! Computational Linguistics is inherently interdisciplinary, and in order to become a competent practioner, one needs to become adept in Computer Science as well as Linguistics. However, this course will focus on the contributions Linguistics has made, and is capable of making, to this field, and does not require any programming background. Students will be introduced to core topics in Artificial Intelligence and Computational Linguistics and work together on term projects. The course topics will be associated with selected readings that will be made available via D2L. There will be a focus on accessing State-of-the-Art demos of NLP components and systems and analyzing the results they produce for coverage and correctness.

Overview of Schedule

Aug 24 Introduction and Overview
Aug 26, 28 Symbolic Representations and Search Spaces
M & C game
Aug 31, Sep 1 No Class
Sep 4, 9, 11 (Sep 7 is Labor Day) Symbolic Representations and Search Spaces
Sep 14 Discussion of Term Projects
Sep 16, 18, 21, 23, 25, 28, 30, Oct 2 Syntax: Grammars and Parsing Algorithms
Oct 5, 7, 9, 12, 14 Syntax: Statistical Parsing
Oct 16 In class review of Search/Syntax/Parsing
Oct 19 In Class Exam: Search/Syntax/Parsing
Oct 21, 23 Semantics: Word Senses and Machine Learning
Oct 26 Project Proposals due - Class discussion
Oct 28, 30 Semantics: Word Senses and Machine Learning
Nov 2, 4, 6, 9, 11, 13, 16 Semantics: Semantic Role Labeling and Lexical Resources
Nov 18 In class review of Semantics
Nov 20 In Class Exam 2: Semantics
Nov 23, 25, 27 No Class - Fall Break
Nov 30 NLP Applications
Dec 2, 4, 7, 9, 11 Project Presentations
Dec 16 NO Final Exam 1:30pm

Assessment: Several components will be taken into consideration in determining your grade.

Exams (30%):
There will be two in-class exams at approximately 6 week intervals, for 18% each.
Class Participation (15%):
Each student is expected to attend regularly and participate actively in class discussion.
Quizzes and Homeworks (25%):
Each week there will be either a 10 minute weekly reading quizz on Wednesday or a Homework assignment.
Research Topic Presentation - Presentation and Critiques (30%):
Each student, or pair of students, will define (in consultation with Professor Palmer) a topic to be the subject of an in-class oral presentation and a paper. The topic should take either a positive or a negative stance with respect to an issue covered in a classroom reading and suggest possible follow-on studies/experiments/readings/computational models that could further validate the position taken. The oral presentation should be focused and visually engaging. It must be based on at least two reviewed publications in addition to classroom readings. The topics will be presented for approxiately 20 minutes each in the final two weeks of class. At least two other presenters with a similar topic will be asked to critique each student's presentation, and lead the discussion session following the presentation. The project grade will be based on both the student's own presentation, his or her critques of at least two other presentations, and the critiques his or her presentation receives.

Syllabus Statements:

Acccommodation for Disabilities

If you qualify for accommodations because of a disability, please submit to me a letter from Disability Services in a timely manner (for exam accommodations provide your letter at least one week prior to the exam) so that your needs can be addressed. Disability Services determines accommodations based on documented disabilities. Contact Disability Services at 303-492-8671 or by e-mail at If you have a temporary medical condition or injury, see Temporary Injuries guidelines under the Quick Links at the Disability Services website and discuss your needs with me.

Religious Holidays

Campus policy regarding religious observances requires that faculty make every effort to deal reasonably and fairly with all students who, because of religious obligations, have conflicts with scheduled exams, assignments or required attendance. In this class, please inform me as soon as possible if you need to miss class because of a religious holiday, and there will be no penalty for the absence. Any work missed will need to be made up. As far as possible, the scheduled exams do not fall on holidays that might require an absence. See campus policy regarding religious observances for full details.

Classroom Behavior

Students and faculty each have responsibility for maintaining an appropriate learning environment. Those who fail to adhere to such behavioral standards may be subject to discipline. Professional courtesy and sensitivity are especially important with respect to individuals and topics dealing with differences of race, color, culture, religion, creed, politics, veteranĘs status, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity and gender expression, age, disability, and nationalities. Class rosters are provided to the instructor with the student's legal name. I will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records. For more information, see the policies on classroom behavior and the student code .

Discrimination And Harassment

The University of Colorado Boulder (CU-Boulder) is committed to maintaining a positive learning, working, and living environment. CU-Boulder will not tolerate acts of discrimination or harassment based upon Protected Classes or related retaliation against or by any employee or student. For purposes of this CU-Boulder policy, "Protected Classes" refers to race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, age, disability, creed, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, veteran status, political affiliation or political philosophy. Individuals who believe they have been discriminated against should contact the Office of Institutional Equity and Compliance (OIEC) at 303-492-2127 or the Office of Student Conduct and Conflict Resolution (OSC) at 303-492-5550. Information about the OIEC, the above referenced policies, and the campus resources available to assist individuals regarding discrimination or harassment can be found at the OIEC website . The full policy on discrimination and harassment contains additional information.

Honor Code

All students of the University of Colorado at Boulder are responsible for knowing and adhering to the academic integrity policy of this institution. Violations of this policy may include: cheating, plagiarism, aid of academic dishonesty, fabrication, lying, bribery, and threatening behavior. All incidents of academic misconduct shall be reported to the Honor Code Council (; 303-735-2273). Students who are found to be in violation of the academic integrity policy will be subject to both academic sanctions from the faculty member and non-academic sanctions (including but not limited to university probation, suspension, or expulsion). Additional information regarding the Honor Code policy can be found online and at the Honor Code Office.