Our research in computational linguistics emphasizes issues in lexical semantics, pragmatics, and text classification that arise when the methods of computational linguistics are applied to real-world language and real-world problems. The ultimate goal of our research is the development of better computational models of language for use in human-computer interaction and in applications such as text analysis, information retrieval, and machine translation. Two applications that have been especially important in our work are intelligent understanding of text and linguistic assistance to disabled users. In addition, we have developed methods for detecting Alzheimer's disease, or cognitive decline, by looking at long-term diachronic changes in people's writing.
Several themes underlie our research. First, we are concerned with fine-grained aspects of language, as it is really used in the world. Second, although our methods are largely statistical and based on machine-learning, we also emphasize problems in the representation of linguistic and semantic knowledge. Third, many of the problems that we work on and the approaches that we take are inherently interdisciplinary; our work draws on research in such disciplines as theoretical linguistics, English literature, philosophy, and speech-language pathology.