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Computational Linguistics Program

Linguistics 581

Introduction to Computational Linguistics

    Course Description

    This course will serve as an introduction to the field of computational linguistics, which includes aspects of speech recognition, natural language processing, information retrieval, and information extraction.

    The course begins with an introduction to finite-state automata and some basic natural language applications; this is extended to finite-state transducers with applications in morphology (word structure). Other topics covered: ngram language models, the Viterbi algorithm, part of speech tagging, context-free grammars and context-free parsing, word-sense disambiguation, and information retrieval.


    The primary goal of the course is to acquaint students with a basic set of computational techniques that have proved useful in a variety of natural language applications. Students should acquire enough facility with the concepts and tools so that they can use them to construct well-specified solutions to simple computational linguistic problems. A well-specified solution is one that a programmer can use to write a program.


    The course will use the textbook:

    * Jurafsky, Daniel and Martin, James H. 2000. Speech and Language Processing. Prentice-Hall. (2nd Edition only!)

    There will be exercises for most of the chapters covered.


    The language used for programming exercises will be open. Python will be encouraged but not required. Programming assignments will aslo be accepted in Java.

    Pre-requisites At least two linguistics courses or at least two programming or CS courses. Students with no programming background will find this course challenging.
    Grading Grading will be based on exercises and take-home midterms and finals.
    • Takehome Midterm 20%
    • Takehome Final 30%
    • Exercises: 50%
    The general structure of the course is not well-suited to late assignments. Assignment solutions will be discussed in detail on the day they are turned in, and thus students who turn assignments in late will be at an advantage. However, to allow for some flexibility, late assignments will receive partial credit. Here is the lateness policy:
    • Up to one week late: 50% credit for assignment
    • More than one week late: not accepted
    Group Work

    Group work is encouraged on the assignments. The midterm and final should be completed without any help.

    When turning in collaborative assignments, your collaborators should be identified on your paper.


    Attendance is not a formal part of your grade.

    However, be aware that hints on how to solve problems on the assignments, the midterms, and the final are handed out liberally in class. These hints will not be posted on the web page.


    Place and Time

    Tu Th 1100-1215 E 201


    Mailing address:
    Department of Linguistics and Oriental Languages
    San Diego State University
    5500 Campanile Drive
    San Diego, CA 92182-7727
    Telephone: (619) 594-0252
    Office location: BAM, room 321
    Office hours: TuTh 9:30-10:45 TuTh 12:30-1:450