2010-11 Catalog

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Offering Description

Data and Information: Computation and Language

Fall quarter

Faculty: Sheryl Shulman computer science, Jeffrey Gordon computer science, Neal Nelson computer science, mathematics

Fields of Study: communications, computer science, language studies, mathematics and philosophy

Fall: CRN (Credit) Level 10038 (16) Fr; 10040 (16) So - Sr  

Credits: 16(F)

Class Standing: Freshmen - Senior; 50% of the seats are reserved for freshmenFreshmen - Senior

Offered During: Day


Have you ever wondered how web searches work? It is often claimed that one can successfully search for web sites, maps, blogs, images...just by entering a few "key words". How do they do it? More generally, how can computers be programmed to interpret texts and data?

This program will bring together faculty and students with interest and expertise in language and computer science with the goal of exploring these questions: When we (or Google's computers) read a text, how do we (or they) understand what the text means? We humans bring to our reading of the text three critical things: 1) knowledge of the language in which the text is written—its grammar and the meanings of the words, and how words are put together into sentences and paragraphs, 2) our understanding of how the world works and how humans communicate, and 3) our natural human intelligence. Even with these abilities, however, we often misinterpret text (or data) or are faced with too much information. The help a computer gives us, however, is sometimes different from how we naturally think about the words, images, maps or other information that we encounter.

In this program we will explore how to use computing to understand language. Although the task is complex, an understanding of the abstract structure, logic and organization of language will guide us to successful computational processing of the more complex human languages.

In logic, our work will include looking at the structure of words, sentences, and texts (syntax) as well as their meanings (semantics and reasoning). We will examine the underlying grammatical structure of language and its close connection to computing and computer programming. In addition, we will learn to program in Python and study how computers are used to "understand" texts and data. Lectures, seminar and case studies will examine how to make data from text and text or meaning from data.

Maximum Enrollment: 50

Preparatory for studies or careers in: computer science, formal language study, mathematics, library science, information science and web development.

Campus Location: Olympia

Online Learning: Hybrid Online Learning < 25% Delivered Online

Books: www.tescbookstore.com

Program Revisions

Date Revision
September 22nd, 2010 Jeff Gordon has joined the teaching team.
May 11th, 2010 Program description and staffing updated