Data and Information: Computational Linguistics

Fall 2018 quarter

Taught by

Brian Walter
mathematics, computer science, improvisational theater
Rachel Hastings
linguistics, mathematics
mathematics, computer science
  • UG

Although the human capacity for language is sometimes described as a computational system in the brain, it is surprisingly challenging to program actual computers to interpret, respond to, or generate written text or spoken language. We will explore intersections between linguistics and computer science with the general goal of understanding how we can use computers to analyze text, including for example, social media content. Although the task is complex and brushes against fundamental questions about language and intelligence, we will find that an understanding of the abstract structure and organization of human language provides guidance to the person who creates algorithms to mine texts for structure and meaning, and even to the human analyst who uses those tools.

This program covers introductory linguistic theory and computer science with the goals of gaining skills in linguistic analysis and computer programming, and explores the interaction between the two areas. In linguistics, this will include looking at the structure of words, sentences, and texts (morphology, phonology, syntax, and discourse) as well as their meanings (semantics and pragmatics). In computer science, students will learn to program in Python and study how computers are used to understand texts and data. In conjunction with studies in linguistics and computer science, we will read about the history and philosophy of both fields as well as current work in their intersection, and we will gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between computers and human intelligence.

The work in this program will include weekly assignments in linguistics and in programming, seminar reading and writing, lectures, workshops, computer labs, and a final group project. This program is good preparation for the Computer Science Foundations program and further work in computer science and linguistics.

Program Details

Fields of Study

computer science linguistics

Preparatory For

computer science, linguistics, and data science.


Fall Open

Location and Schedule

Campus Location


Time Offered


Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning