Computer Science

Linguistics and CS Joint Distinguished Lecturer: Dr. Lillian Lee




Presented by: Lillian Lee

Professor of Computer Science and Information Science

Cornell University

Date: Monday, November 13, 2017 from 3:00-5:00pm

Location: Andrews Conference Room: SSH 2203

Sponsor: Department of Linguistics & Department of Computer Science

Abstract: What effect does language have on people? You might say in response, “Who are you to discuss this problem?” and you would be right to do so; this is a Major Question that science has been tackling for many years. But as a field, I think natural language processing has much to contribute to the conversation, and I hope to encourage many researchers across areas to dive further into these important issues. This talk will focus on the effect of phrasing, emphasizing aspects that go beyond just the selection of one particular word over another.  The issues we’ll consider include: Does the way in which something is worded in and of itself have an effect on whether it is remembered or attracts attention, beyond its content or context? Can we characterize how different sides in a debate frame their arguments, in a way that goes beyond specific lexical choice (e.g., “pro‐choice” vs. “pro‐life”)?  The settings we’ll explore range from movie quotes that achieve cultural prominence; to posts that catch on or change minds on Facebook, Wikipedia, Twitter, arXiv, and the ChangeMyView subreddit; to language that affects discussion points among the members of the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC).

Lillian Lee is a professor of computer science and of information science   at Cornell University, and the co‐Editor‐in‐Chief of the Transactions of the   ACL. Her research interests include natural language processing and   computational social science. She is the recipient of the inaugural Best Paper Award at HLT‐NAACL 2004 (joint with Regina Barzilay), a citation in “Top   Picks: Technology Research Advances of 2004” by Technology Research News (also joint   with Regina Barzilay), and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship; and in   2013, she was named a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of   Artificial Intelligence (AAAI). Her group’s work has received several mentions in the popular press, including The New York Times, NPR’s All Things   Considered, and NBC’s The Today Show, and one of her co‐authored papers was publicly called “boring” by Youtubers Rhett and Link  in a video viewed over 2.5 million times. Website:

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