Computer programs such as GPT-3 are now capable of generating text that may be indistinguishable from human-written articles. Despite this progress, natural language understanding and generating text are still a challenging problems. As the technology continues to improve, it will become more difficult to know whether we are interacting online with a person or a computer. With this context in mind, our program will explore intersections between linguistics and computer science with the general goal of understanding how natural languages are structured and how we can use computers to analyze text. Although the task is complex and brushes against fundamental questions about language and intelligence, we will find that an understanding of the abstract 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, 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 and discuss connections between these fields and work towards 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, lectures, workshops, class discussion, computer labs, and a final project. This program is good preparation for the Computer Science Foundations program and further work in computer science and linguistics.
This program will be offered entirely online. To successfully participate in this program, students will need reliable internet access, a computer/laptop with a camera and microphone, and access to word processing. Students can expect the remote class time to be around 7-8 hours of synchronous (scheduled) coursework per week, using Canvas and Zoom. Students will have access to alternatives to synchronous participation if conditions require.
Course Reference Numbers
Computer Science, Linguistics, Data Science