Abstract: Language is socially situated: both what we say and what we mean are dependent on our social identities, our interlocutors, and the communicative setting. Acknowledging and adapting to social variation will be critical for developing natural language processing systems that are robust across a diverse range of genres, platforms, and authors. In this talk, I will describe research in the nascent field of computational sociolinguistics, which aims to formalize language's social dimension through computational techniques. First, I will show how unsupervised machine learning over social network labelings and text enables the induction of social meanings for address terms, such as "Ms" and "dude". Next, I will describe how to build NLP systems that are robust to social variation. In this work, we use social network embeddings to induce personalized language processing systems for individual social media users, improving performance even for users for whom no labeled data is available. Finally, I will describe how the spread of linguistic innovations can serve as evidence for sociocultural affinity and influence, using a range of computational techniques that include vector autoregressive models, Hawkes processes, and causal inference.
Bio: Jacob Eisenstein is an Assistant Professor in the School of Interactive Computing at Georgia Tech. He works on statistical natural language processing, focusing on computational sociolinguistics, social media analysis, discourse, and machine learning. He is a recipient of the NSF CAREER Award, a member of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR) Young Investigator Program, and was a SICSA Distinguished Visiting Fellow at the University of Edinburgh. His work has also been supported by the National Institutes for Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Google. Jacob was a Postdoctoral researcher at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Illinois. He completed his Ph.D. at MIT in 2008, winning the George M. Sprowls dissertation award. Jacob's research has been featured in the New York Times, National Public Radio, and the BBC. Thanks to his brief appearance in If These Knishes Could Talk, Jacob has a Bacon number of 2.
Host: Regina Barzilay