New Directions in Computing - Applied Natural Language Processing for Semantic Evaluations

Catalog Description

This course will introduce students to the methods and tools used for developing Natural Language Processing and Machine Learning software. Students will work as a team to develop a machine learning system that can compete in a range range of increasingly challenging problems in natural language semantics. Teams will choose which challenge to tackle from a collection of tasks for computational semantic analysis. Students will have an opportunity to compare their systems against teams from other institutions and present their results. Participation requires permission of the instructor

This course can also serve as the basis for a "Senior Thesis or Project"

Credits: 3

Enrollment Cap: 5 students

Prerequisites: COMS W 4705 (Natural Language Processing) or COMS W 4771 (Machine Learning) or extensive software experience

Course Staff


Adam Poliak
Office hours: TBA
Zoom link:

Course Components:

The course contains the following components:

Learning Outcomes:

By the end of this course, students will:

Course Materials

Textbooks Required:

Goldberg, Yoav. "Neural network methods for natural language processing." Synthesis Lectures on Human Language Technologies 10.1 (2017): 1-309.

All additional course readings will be made available on Canvas.

Course Overview

Course Topics:

  1. Advanced NLP modeling: Using Pytorch to implement NLP systems
  2. Research Process: Understand the research process in NLP
  3. Potential advanced topics:
    1. Data curation
    2. Crowdsourcing
    3. Deploying NLP systems on the web

Schedule (Tentative)

The schedule will be broken into the following:

Course meetings will be determined based on availability and times that work best for the students. This will be determined during the first week. During course meetings, students will report their progress for the week and one student will provide a summary of the week's reading.

January Competition

Students will have the option of using their system to compete in The 15th International Workshop on Semantic Evaluation (SemEval) between January 10th through January 31st. This is not required and the students' grade will not be dependent on participating in the competition. Students who elect to compete in the competition will have the opportunity to present their work at the SemEval workshop in Summer 2021.


The course will culminate in a write-up of the project following this format.

Grade Criteria Grade Scale
Percent Letter Grade Percent
Participation 15% A+ 97 -
Summaries for Readings 20% A 93 - 96
Presentations 20% A- 90 - 92
Midsemester write up 15% B+ 87 - 89
Final write up 30% B 83 - 86
B- 80 - 82
C+ 77 - 79
C 73 - 76
C- 70 - 72

Barnard Student Honor Code

Approved by the student body in 1912 and updated in 2016, the Code states:

We, the students of Barnard College, resolve to uphold the honor of the College by engaging with integrity in all of our academic pursuits. We affirm that academic integrity is the honorable creation and presentation of our own work. We acknowledge that it is our responsibility to seek clarification of proper forms of collaboration and use of academic resources in all assignments or exams. We consider academic integrity to include the proper use and care for all print, electronic, or other academic resources. We will respect the rights of others to engage in pursuit of learning in order to uphold our commitment to honor. We pledge to do all that is in our power to create a spirit of honesty and honor for its own sake.

More information about the honor code can be found at

Wellness Statement

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Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services Statement

If you believe you may encounter barriers to the academic environment due to a documented disability or emerging health challenges, please feel free to contact me and/or the Center for Accessibility Resources & Disability Services (CARDS). Any student with approved academic accommodations is encouraged to contact me during office hours or via email. If you have questions regarding registering a disability or receiving accommodations for the semester, please contact CARDS at (212) 854-4634,, or learn more at CARDS is located in 101 Altschul Hall.

Affordable Access to Course Texts and Materials Statement

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