Discourse analysis is the area of linguistics that focuses on the structure of language above the clause level. It is interesting both in the complexity of structures that operate at that level and in the insights it offers about how personality, relationships, and community identification are revealed through patterns of language use. A resurgence of interest in topics related to modeling language at the discourse level is in evidence at recent language technologies conferences. This course is designed to help students get up to speed with foundational linguistic work in the area of discourse analysis, and to use these concepts to challenge the state-of-the-art in language technologies for problems that have a strong connection with those concepts, such as dialogue act tagging, sentiment analysis, and bias detection.
This is meant to be a hands on and intensely interactive course with a heavy programming component. The course is structured around 3 week units, all but the first of which have a substantial programming assignment structured as a competition (although grades will not be assigned based on ranking within the competition, rather grades will be assigned based on demonstrated comprehension of course materials and methodology).