Zhou Yu   俞舟

Zhou (pronounced similar to Jo)

Assistant Professor

Computer Science Department

University of California, Davis


1 Shields Ave, Davis, CA 95616

Email: joyu@ucdavis.edu

CV [pdf] Research Statement [pdf]


I just finished my PhD at Language Technology Institute under School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University, working with Prof. Alan W Black and Prof. Alexander I. Rudnicky. 2015 summer and 2016 summer, I interned with Prof. David Suendermann-Oeft at ETS San Francisco Office on cloud based mulitmodal dialog systems. 2014 Fall, I interned with Dan Bohus and Eric Horvitz at Microsoft Research on situated multimodal dialogue systems.

Prior to CMU, I received a B.S. in Computer Science and a B.A. in Linguistics from Zhejiang University in 2011. I worked with Prof. Xiaofei He and Prof. Deng Cai there on Machine Learning and Computer Vision. I also worked with Prof. Yunhua Qu on Machine Translation.

Research Interests

I design algorithms for real-time intelligent interactive systems that coordinate with user actions that are beyond spoken languages, including non-verbal behaviors to achieve effective and natural communications. In particular, I optimize human-machine communication via studies of multimodal sensing and analysis, speech and natural language processing, machine learning and human-computer interaction. The central focus of my dissertation research is to bring together all the areas above to design, implement and deploy end-to-end real-time interactive intelligent systems that are able to plan globally considering interaction history and current user actions to achieve better user experience and task performance. Meanwhile, I enjoy collaborating with researchers with different backgrounds on interdisciplinary research in all area of science, such as health care, education and robotics.


I am joining University of California, Davis as an assistant professor this July. I am recruiting postdocs, PhDs, and interns that are interested in NLP, ML, and AI in general.

I am co-organizing a AAAI Fall workshop on Natural Communication for Human-Robot Collaboration (Nov.9-11), please do sumbit to the workshop if you are interested.

Our Team, CMU Magnus was selected to participate in Amazon Alexa Prize Challenge with a $100,000 stipend and other supports from Amazon! Congrats to us all! webpage

Please try our chatbot: TickTock. Here is the webpage

A human-chatbot conversation database. Here is the webpage

Selected Publications

-Zhou Yu, Alan W Black and Alexander I. Rudnicky, Learning Conversational Systems that Interleave Task and Non-Task Content, IJCAI 2017 [pdf]

-Zhou Yu, Xinrui He, Alan W Black and Alexander I. Rudnicky, User Engagement Modeling in Virtual Agents Under Different Cultural Contexts, IVA 2016.

-Zhou Yu, Ziyu Xu, Alan W Black and Alexander Rudnicky, Strategy and Policy Learning for Non-Task-Oriented Conversational Systems, SIGDIAL 2016. [pdf]

-Zhou Yu, Leah Nicolich-Henkin, Alan W Black and Alexander Rudnicky, A Wizard-of-Oz Study on A Non-Task-Oriented Dialog Systems that Reacts to User Engagement, SIGDIAL 2016. [pdf]

-Zhou Yu, Ziyu Xu, Alan W Black and Alexander Rudnicky, Chatbot evaluation and database expansion via crowdsourcing, In Proceedings of the RE-WOCHAT workshop of LREC, 2016. [pdf]

-Sean Andrist, Dan Bohus, Zhou Yu, Eric Horvitz, Are You Messing with Me?: Querying about the Sincerity of Interactions in the Open World. HRI 2016. [pdf]

-Zhou Yu, Vikram Ramanarayanan, Robert Mundkowsky, Patrick Lange, Alan Black, Alexei Ivanov, David Suendermann-Oeft, Multimodal HALEF: An Open-Source Modular Web-Based Multimodal HAL, IWSDS 2016. [pdf]

-Alexei Ivanov, Patrick Lange, David Suendermann-Oeft, Vikram Ramanarayanan, Yao Qian, Zhou Yu and Jidong Tao, Speed vs. Accuracy: Designing an Optimal ASR System for Spontaneous Non-Native Speech in a Real-Time Application, IWSDS 2016. [pdf]

-Zhou Yu, Vikram Ramanarayanan, David Suendermann-Oeft, Xinhao Wang, Klaus Zechner, Lei Chen, Jidong Tao and Yao Qian, Using Bidirectional LSTM Recurrent Neural Networks to Learn High-Level Abstractions of Sequential Features for Automated Scoring of Non-Native Spontaneous Speech, ASRU 2015. [pdf]

-Zhou Yu, Dan Bohus and Eric Horvitz, Incremental Coordination: Attention-Centric Speech Production in a Physically Situated Conversational Agent, SIGDIAL 2015. [pdf]

- Zhou Yu, Alexandros Papangelis, Alexander Rudnicky, TickTock: Engagement Awareness in a non-Goal-Oriented Multimodal Dialogue System, AAAI Spring Symposium on Turn-taking and Coordination in Human-Machine Interaction 2015. [pdf][slides]

- Zhou Yu, Stefan Scherer, David Devault, Jonathan Gratch, Giota Stratou, Louis-Philippe Morency and Justine Cassell, Multimodal Prediction of Psychological Disorder: Learning Verbal and Nonverbal Commonality in Adjacency Pairs, SEMDIAL 2013. [pdf] [slides]

- Zhou Yu, David Gerritsen, Amy Ogan, Alan W Black, Justine Cassell, Automatic Prediction of Friendship via Multi-model Dyadic Features, SIGDIAL, 2013. [pdf]

- Zhou Yu, Deng Cai, Xiaofei He, Error-correcting Output Hashing in Fast Similar Search, Best paper in The Second International Conference on Internet Multimedia Computing and Service, ICIMCS Harbin, China,Dec.2010. [pdf]

Demo Videos

TickTock: a multimodal chatbot with user engagement coordination
- below is a demo of using automatically generated conversational strategy to improve user engagement.

Direction-giving Robot: a direction-giving humanoid robot with user attention coordination
- below is a demo and some real user cases of people interacting with the robot.

HALEF: a distributed web-based multimodal dialog system with user engagement coordination
- below is a demo of a Amazon Turker interacting with our job interview training application via a web browser. It live-streams videos from usrs' local webcam to the server.