Title: Natural Language Applications Across Genres: From News to Novels
Speaker: Kathleen McKeown (Columbia)
Time: 2:15pm-3:30pm, Friday, Nov 18
Place: Room 4102, CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Ave (34str&35str).

           Natural Language Applications Across Genres:
                         From News to Novels

                          Kathleen McKeown
                  Department of Computer Science
                        Columbia University
                         New York, NY 10027

Much research in the natural language field has been carried out on news and
there is a need for applications in this genre. In earlier work, we developed a
robust news summarization system, called Newsblaster, that provides a browsing
interface to news on the web.  We extended this research, developing techniques
for generating responses to open-ended question answering, enabling the
generation of a biography of a queried person or a description of an event.
While these news applications were difficult and raised many research
challenges, we began working with weblogs and multilingual input as well.
In this talk, I will discuss the issues that arise when  summarization
and question answering systems  must handle noisy input. I will also show how
the need for new applications arise for new genres and touch on research that
we are currently doing on identifying persuasion on weblogs. Finally, I will
turn to our most recent research, where we have moved to a yet more difficult
genre, the novel, and discuss how we can use natural language technology to
investigate theories that have been proposed in comparative literature.

Kathleen R. McKeown is the Henry and Gertrude Rothschild Professor of Computer
Science at Columbia University and she also serves as the Vice Dean for
Research in the School of Engineering Research and Applied Science. She served
as Department Chair from 1998-2003. Her research interests include text
summarization, natural language generation, multi-media explanation, digital
libraries, concept to speech generation and natural language
interfaces. McKeown received the Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University
of Pennsylvania in 1982 and has been at Columbia since then. In 1985 she
received a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award,
in 1991 she received a National Science Foundation Faculty Award for Women, in
1994 she was selected as a AAAI Fellow, and in 2003 she was elected as an ACM
Fellow. In 2010, she received the Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision Award in
Innovation.  McKeown has also quite active nationally.  She served as a board
member of the Computing Research Association and as secretary of the board.
She served as President of the Association of Computational Linguistics in
1992, Vice President in 1991, and Secretary Treasurer for 1995-1997. She served
as Conference Chair of ACL:HLT08.