Eric Nyberg


Carnegie Mellon University
School of Computer Science
Language Technologies Institute

[ Contact ]

Noted for his contributions to the fields of automatic text translation, information retrieval, and automatic question answering, Nyberg holds a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University (1992) and a B.A. from Boston University (1983). He is a recipient of the Allen Newell Award for Research Excellence (for his contributions to the field of question answering and his work as an original developer on the Watson project) and the BU Computer Science Distinguished Alumna/Alumnus Award. He is also co-Founder and Chief Data Scientist at Cognistx, and serves on the Scientific Advisory Board for From its inception in 2004 until 2022, Eric supported the MCDS Program as founding co-Director and later Director.

Publications and Patents

Eric Nyberg's Google Scholar profile ( most cited | most recent )

Current Courses

11-632 : Data Science Capstone (Fall)
11-634 : Capstone Planning Seminar (Spring)
11-797 : Question Answering (Spring)

Past Projects

The BioASQ Challenge. From 2012 to 2016, a team led by LTI Ph.D. student Zi Yang collaborated with Hoffman-LaRoche's Innovation Center to develop information systems for unstructured biomedical text, including a passage retrieval system for the TREC Genomics dataset [1], a decision support system for gene targeting which leverages information gathered from PubMed articles by an automatic QA system [2], a Biomedical Semantic QA system which received six 1st-place scores in the 2015 BioASQ Challenge tasks, which included snippet retrieval, concept retrieval, and exact answer retrieval [3], and a Biomedical Semantic QA system which received three 1st-place scores in exact answer retrieval in the 2016 BioASQ Challenge [4]. In 2017, a team of CMU Ph.D and MS students focused on ideal answer (summary) questions in BioASQ, and received the best automatic evaluation score in Task 5B [5].

[1] Z. Yang, E. Garduno, Y. Fang, A. Maiberg, C. McCormack, and E. Nyberg (2013). "Building Optimal Information Systems Automatically: Configuration Space Exploration for Biomedical Information Systems", Proceedings of the ACM Conference on Information and Knowledge Management [ ACM Digital Library ]

[2] Z. Yang, Y. Li, J. Cai, and E. Nyberg (2014). "QUADS: Question Answering for Decision Support." In Proceedings of SIGIR 2014: the Thirty-seventh Annual International ACM SIGIR Conference on Research and Development in Information Retrieval [ ACM Digital Library ]

[3] Z. Yang, N. Gupta, X. Sun, D. Xu, C. Zhang, and E. Nyberg (2015). "Learning to Answer Biomedical Factoid & List Questions: OAQA at BioASQ 3B", In Proceedings of CLEF 2015 Evaluation Labs and Workshop [ PDF ]

[4] Z. Yang, Y. Zhou and E. Nyberg (2016). "Learning to Answer Biomedical Questions: OAQA at BioASQ 4B", In Proceedings of Workshop on Biomedical Language Processing [ PDF ]

[5] K. Chandu, A. Naik, A. Chandrasekar, Z. Yang, N. Gupta, E. Nyberg (2017). "Tackling Biomedical Text Summarization: OAQA at BioASQ 5B", In Proceedings of BioNLP 2017, pp. 58-66. [ PDF ]

The LiveQA Challenge. From 2015 to 2018, CMU collaborated with Yahoo! Labs (as part of the InMind project) to develop automatic answering agents that can respond to real-time questions from web users (like those received by the Yahoo! Answers community QA web site). CMU student Di Wang created a LiveQA system which combined standard retrieval algorithms (BM25) with state-of-the-art deep learning models [1] to achieve the highest score among all participants in the 2015 TREC LiveQA Challenge [2]. In 2016, Di extended his system to include a novel answer ranking method based on attentional encoder-decoder recurrent neural networks [3] and achieved the highest score among 25 automatic systems that were evaluated in the 2016 LiveQA Track [4]. Di continued to refine his approach and fielded the best automatic system for LiveQA medical questions in 2017 [5,6].

[1] D. Wang and E. Nyberg (2015). "CMU OAQA at TREC 2015 LiveQA: Discovering the Right Answer with Clues", Proceedings of TREC 2015 [ PDF ]

[2] E. Agichtein, D. Carmel, D. Harman, D. Pelleg, Y. Pinter (2015). "Overview of the TREC 2015 Live QA Track", Proceedings of TREC 2015 [ PDF ]

[3] D. Wang and E. Nyberg (2016). "CMU OAQA at TREC 2016 LiveQA: An Attentional Neural Encoder-Decoder Approach for Answer Ranking", Proceedings of TREC 2016 [ PDF ]

[4] E. Agichtein, D. Carmel, D. Pelleg, Y. Pinter and D. Harman (2016). "Overview of the TREC 2016 Live QA Track", Proceedings of TREC 2016 [ PDF ]

[5] D. Wang and E. Nyberg (2017). "CMU OAQA at TREC 2017 LiveQA: A Neural Dual Entailment Approach for Question Paraphrase Identification", Proceedings of TREC 2017 [ PDF ].

[6] A. B. Abacha, E. Agichtein, Y. Pinter and D. Demner-Fushman (2017). "Overview of the Medical Question Answering Task at TREC 2017 LiveQA ", Proceedings of TREC 2017 [ PDF ]

The Jeopardy! Challenge. From 2007 to 2011, CMU collaborated with the IBM DeepQA Group to develop an open-source framework for open advancement of question answering (OAQA) [1]. The initial OAQA architecture and data model were used to build systems for the TREC challenge problem and the Jeopardy! challenge problem [2,3,4,5]. Carnegie Mellon students Nico Schlaefer and Hideki Shima also contributed algorithms and code to IBM's Watson system, as participants in IBM's summer internship program.

[1] "Towards the Open Advancement of Question Answering", IBM Technical Report RC24789, 2009

[2] D. Ferrucci, E. Brown, J. Chu-Carroll, J. Fan, D. Gondek, A. Kalyanpur, A. Lally, J. W. Murdock, E. Nyberg, J. Prager, N. Schlaefer and C. Welty (2010). "Building Watson: An Overview of the DeepQA Project", AI Magazine, 31:3, pp. 59-79. [ PDF ]

[3] "CMU and IBM Collaborate on Open Computing System for Question Answering", PR Newswire on February 11, 2011

[4] "IBM Announces Eight Universities Contributing to Watson", PR Newswire on February 11, 2011

[5] "Man versus machine: Chalk one up for the latter in Jeopardy! showdown'", Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on February 17, 2011

Last Updated 09-April-2019