Linguistics professor receives $2.4 million Facebook award
Michael White, professor of computational linguistics in the Department of Linguistics, has received a $2.4 million Collaborative Research award from Facebook. The three-year award provides flexible funding for White's research program, which emphasizes the potential of linguistic theory to contribute to natural language generation in conversational systems.
As in other areas of AI, in recent years deep learning methods have been applied to natural language generation tasks, yielding neural models trained to mimic language behavior in dialogue with remarkable realism. However, current models can be difficult to control and tend to produce incoherent language in longer interactions. The award will enable research on incorporating linguistically informed structure into neural natural language generation models in ways that enhance both the quality and controllability of such models.
The research is fundamental but can also be expected to have practical applications in conversational assistants like Siri and Alexa. The award incorporates the terms of a Master Collaborative Research Agreement between Ohio State and Facebook, which calls for open science public dedication of the intellectual property developed during the project.