Note to prospective student collaborators

from Noah Smith
(last updated December 2013)

FAQ from newly-admitted or newly-arrived graduate students

I want to do NLP at CMU. Who should I talk to?
Start here.

I want to let you know I am interested! How can I do that?
Use this form. I check it about once a week, so please be patient.

When can I join your group?
At CMU's School of Computer Science, new graduate students are matched to advisors within a month of their arrival in the fall. This means I consider taking additional advisees in August/September, each year. To become my graduate advisee, you must be a student in a graduate program at Carnegie Mellon University; you cannot apply directly to my group for admission.

What kind of students are you looking for?
I take students whose research interests are strongly aligned with my own. Here is a statement of my research interests and activities, as of May 2013. I believe the best NLP researchers are those willing to draw on diverse ideas from machine learning, linguistics, and computer science; if you're allergic to any of those, we won't work well together. You should also be an extremely good programmer, able to think independently, and read critically. I advise you to learn from the data; find out about (and talk to) my current students (details here).

Are you taking new students this year?
There are three ingredients required for a successful addition to my group: mutual interest, time, and funding.
Mutual interest: We need to be excited about the same kinds of things. See the last question, "What kind of students are you looking for?"
Time: Advising takes time, and at the moment I have a lot of people in my group. I'm only likely to take on new students if others are expected to graduate soon.
Funding: I am only allowed to take on new students if I can support them financially (tuition, stipend, computing expenses, and travel to conferences). Even if I have funding in a given year, the funded project may require a specific set of skills and interests. While I discourage students from worrying too much about the financial side of research, the success of my grant proposals does have an effect on students' lives, most notably at the beginning. Note, too, that if you have your own funding (from a fellowship of some kind), that will be helpful, but a match in interests and time are still necessary ingredients. It is too soon to know whether I will take new advisees in 2014. Please do not email me to let me know you are interested; instead, fill out this form. It's always okay to email me with specific technical questions, though!

Will you advise unfunded MLT (MS) students or MIIS students?
Yes, if I have time and we have mutual interests. This arrangement does not imply that you will become funded in the future. At present, I do not advise any unfunded MS students.

What department should I be in to work with you?
I can advise students in any unit of SCS (and will do so happily), though LTI and MLD students are most likely to be a good fit. If you are not in SCS but think you'd like to work with me, get in touch by email.

How should I get in touch with you?
For a general expression of interest, this form is best. I try to reply to all email messages, but you will get a faster and more useful response if:

I heard that you sometimes advise independent study projects. Can I do one?
I have less and less time for these each year. At this point I won't do more than a small number at a time. If you have a really interesting idea that you can get me excited about, then let's talk, especially if it's relevant to my research interests and projects.

CMU undergraduates

If you're an undergraduate already in Pittsburgh (at CMU or nearby) who is interested in research opportunities and you think my work sounds interesting, take my NLP class in the spring. If you've already taken my class (or one like it) and are interested in research opportunities, please set up an appointment. I'm most interested in working with undergraduates who have an earnest interest in natural language processing and plenty of time to pursue that interest.

Prospective applicants

If you are a prospective student interested in CMU, I encourage you to apply for admission in the fall. If you have specific questions about my research, don't hesitate to email me. I'm afraid I don't have time to answer general questions about applications for admission to various programs in SCS or the LTI (but see my grad school advice).

I do not have funding for internships for non-CMU students in the current academic year.

If you are interested in a postdoctoral or research programmer position in my group, please send me an email immediately.

I am extremely unlikely to be able to host visiting scholars or students I don't personally know.