Assignment 1

This colored text indicates that this is A1 for 2017.

Task: Propose a research idea related to one of the readings below and execute a pilot empirical study using one of the listed datasets. Most crucial to is that (a) your idea is interesting, and (b) your pilot empirical study demonstrates that you can quickly evaluate feasibility and estimate the chances of an interesting result.

It is neither required nor expected that your proposal for this assignment will relate to your final course project.

Please strive to post your proposal well in advance of the actual due date (a suggested goal: Tuesday Aug. 29, 11:59pm), for two reasons. First, I (and, I hope, your classmates) need time to be able to post useful replies and feedback — indeed, perhaps more than one round, time permitting — to help you refine or adapt it. Second, you are encouraged to work in groups, and early posting will facilitate linking up with classmates having similar interests.

After posting your proposal, continue to monitor and participate on the course discussion site. After all, your classmates have read the same papers and are using the same data, so we have a lot of common ground. Example things to post: feedback on other people's proposals; some oddity of the datasets you've found that is worth alerting others to; unexpected early results that are interesting or that you need help interpreting.

Basically, I would like us all to act as a team; we're all in this together!

The two required readings

  1. Excerpts from anaesthetica's “Attacked from within”, 2009.
  2. Justine Zhang, Ravi Kumar, Sujith Ravi, and Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil, 2016. Conversational flow in Oxford-style debates. NAACL, pp.136–141.

These readings were chosen because they are thought-provoking, accessible, short, and together represent a wide range of possibilities.

The two datasets — you are required to use one

  1. Cornell ChangeMyView data, November 2016 version
  2. Slashdot portion of the British Columbia Conversation Corpora BC3-Blog Corpus


Teamwork is encouraged. Groups of any size can be formed, where each group jointly submits a single project report at the end on the official course management system, CMS. However, each individual remains individually responsible for posting feedback on other people's/group's proposals.

There are further notes on how to find/work as a group below.

Due dates All deadlines refer to 5:00pm unless otherwise specified.

  1. Friday Aug. 25:
    1. Sign in to using your Cornell NetID and password. Click on "Your Profile" and choose a nickname (which can be your real name or your first name) and, via the pull-down menu that says "Display Name Publicly As", a display name. (The "nickname" you entered will be one of the options.)
    2. Send an email to with subject line "CS/IS 6742 account request" containing all the following information.
      1. Your Cornell NetID (example: LJL2)
      2. Name you prefer to be referred to by in this class (example: I prefer to be called "Lillian". Some other "Lillian" prefer to be called "Lil", but not me.)
      3. The display name you entered at the course discussion site
      4. Your goals for taking this course
      5. What background you have, including but not limited to how you satisfy the three prerequisites ((a) CS 2110 or equivalent programming experience; (b) a course in artificial intelligence or any relevant subfield (e.g., NLP, information retrieval, machine learning, Cornell CS courses numbered 47xx or 67xx); (c) proficiency with using machine learning tools (e.g., fluency at training an SVM, comfort with assessing a classifier’s performance using cross-validation))
      Once you send this email, you will be (manually) given access to the course discussion site and, if not already in the system, CMS.
  2. Friday Sept. 1, 2:30pm (Note the earlier-than-5pm deadline, and, as mentioned in the "Task" description above, aim for an earlier date of Tuesday Aug. 29, 11:59pm): Post pilot-study idea(s) to the course discussion site. (Look for the "+ New" item in the admin bar across the very top of the page and select "Post".)

  3. Monday Sept 4: form groups on MS. CMS group formation requires invitations and acceptance of invitations via the system, i.e., action by two people per person added; please check the official CMS documentation or this more graphically-oriented guide for instructions. need the group information from CMS to schedule the group presentations.
  4. Tuesday Sept. 5 in class:
    1. Check back on course discussion site for any comments on your proposal, and add, as replies, any suggestions you have on other people's proposals. Ideally, you will continually monitor the site for updates to your or other people's proposals.
    2. Be prepared to informally discuss how things are going. For example, any preliminary observations about the data? No formal presentation materials are required.
  5. Friday Sept. 8: Submit a project report on CMS. One group = one CMS submission: any group member can upload a version, which will overwrite any previous versions by any other members of the group.
    Required information: (a) the overall research problem you proposed; (b) relation of your research problem to the reading(s) (this description should provide evidence that you read the relevant parts of the readings carefully); (c) proposed techniques; steps employed to process/clean/select data; (d) results (probably preliminary, possibly negative); (e) what you learned; (f) a list of the roles that each member of the group played, if there is more than one person in your group. (g) If you collaborated a bit with people outside your group, acknowledge those other people by name and explain their contribution in the writeup.
  6. Tuesday Sept. 12, in class: Group presentations. You can bring handouts (often most effective for discussions, since people can refer to things out of order) or project slides off a laptop. If the latter, bring a spare copy of your presentation on a flash drive and email a copy.

Academic Integrity Academic and scientific integrity compels one to properly attribute to others any work, ideas, or phrasing that one did not create oneself. To do otherwise is fraud.

Certain points deserve emphasis here. In this class, talking to and helping others is strongly encouraged. You may also, with attribution, use the code from other sources. The easiest rule of thumb is, acknowledge the work and contributions and ideas and words and wordings of others. Do not copy or slightly reword portions of papers, Wikipedia articles, textbooks, other students' work, Stack Overflow answers, something you heard from a talk or a conversation or saw on the Internet, or anything else, really, without acknowledging your sources. See "Acknowledging the Work of Others" in The Essential Guide to Academic Integrity at Cornell and for more information and useful examples.

This is not to say that you can receive course credit for work that is not your own — e.g., taking someone else's report and putting your name at the top, next to the other person(s)' names. However, violations of academic integrity (e.g., fraud) undergo the academic-integrity hearing process on top of any grade penalties imposed, whereas not following the rules of the assignment “only” risks grade penalties.