CS/IS 6742, Fall 2021: Natural Language Processing and Social Interaction.  Prof. Lillian Lee. Tu/Th 1:00-2:15pm, Phillips 403 Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_School_of_Athens

More and more of life is now manifested online, and many of the digital traces that are left by human activity are increasingly recorded in natural-language format. This research-oriented course examines the opportunities for natural language processing to contribute to the analysis and facilitation of socially embedded processes. Possible topics include conversation modeling, analysis of group and sub-group language, language and social relations, persuasion and other causal effects of language.

Click on tabs just above to see information about enrollment/prerequisite policies, administrative info, overall course structure, resources, and so on.

Enrollment, prerequisites, related classes

Enrollment Limited to [[PhD and [CS MS] students] who meet the prerequisites]; PhD students not in CS/INFO will receive manual instructor permission to enroll (details to be arranged at lecture). Auditing (either officially or unofficially) is not permitted. These policies are to keep class meetings heavily discussion- and group-research-focused.

Prerequisites All of the following: (1) CS 2110 or equivalent programming experience; (2) a course in artificial intelligence or any relevant subfield (e.g., NLP, information retrieval, machine learning, Cornell CS courses numbered 47xx or 67xx); (3) proficiency with using machine learning tools (e.g., fluency at training an SVM or other classifier, comfort with assessing a classifier’s performance using cross-validation)

Related classes: see Cornell's NLP course list. Also GOVT 3294 Post-Truth Politics COMM 6750 Research Methods for Social Networks and Social Media, COMM 6770 Attitudes and Social Judgment

All prior runnings of CS/INFO 6742: 2019 fall :: 2018 fall :: 2017 fall :: 2016 fall :: 2015 fall :: 2014 fall :: 2013 fall :: 2011 spring

Administrative info

CMS https://cmsx.cs.cornell.edu. Site for submitting assignments, unless otherwise noted. Login with NetID credentials and select CS 6742. You may find this graphically-oriented guide to common operations useful: see how to replace a prior submission; how to tell if CMS successfully received your files; how to form a group.

Course discussion site https://edstem.org/us/courses/8208/discussion (access restricted to enrolled students). Course announcements and Q&A/discussion site. Social interaction and all that, you know.

Office hours and contact info See Prof. Lee's homepage and scroll to the section on Contact and availability info.

Grading Of most interest to is productive research-oriented discussion participation (in class and/or on the course discussion site, interesting research proposals and pilot studies, and a good-faith final research project.

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 http://www.theuniversityfaculty.cornell.edu/AcadInteg/ 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.

Overall course structure

Lecture Agenda Pedagogical purpose Assignments

Course overview


A1 released: pilot empirical study for a research idea based on the given readings.

#2 - #6

Lectures on topics related to the A1 readings

Case studies to explore some topics and research styles find interesting. Get-to-know-you exercises to get everyone familiar and comfortable with each other.

Next block of meetings

Dicussion of proposed projects based on the readings

Practice with fast research-idea generation. Feedback as to what proposals are most interesting, most feasible, etc.

Discussion of student project proposals, based on the readings for that class meeting. Each class meeting involves everyone reading at least one of the two assigned papers and posting a new research proposal based on the reading to the course discussion site.

Thoughtfulness and creativity are most important to , but take feasibility into account.

Next block of meetings

Lectures on, potentially, linguistic coordination, linguistic adaptation, influence, persuasion, diffusion, discourse structure, advanced language modeling.

Foundational material

Potentially some assignments based on the lectures.

Remainder of the course

Activities related to course projects

Development of a "full-blown" research project (although time restrictions may limit ambitions). For purposes, "interesting" and "well-thought-out" is more important than "successful".





Note that assignments will remain visible even when details are hidden.
#1 Aug 26: Introduction


  • Assignment A1: Pilot empirical research study. Note the first deadline (of several) on Wed Sep 1, 11:59pm.

Class images, links and handouts

Lecture references

#2 Aug 31: A1 inspiration: Overview of conversations


  • Assignment A1 finalized. Note the first deadline (of several) on Wed Sep 1, 11:59pm.

Class images, links and handouts

visualization of keep/delete comments in temporal order
Image source: notabilia.net

Lecture references

#3 Sep 2: Two A1 datasets, alike in dignity


  • Reminder: try to post a preliminary pilot-study idea/sketch/possibilities/questions on Monday.

Class images, links and handouts


#4 Sep 7: Language coordination: a "direct linguistic" interaction


  • Reminder: check Ed Discussions for announcements. And provide thoughts/encouragement to your classmates!
  • Use Passkey to get access to paywalled content via Cornell.
  • Toolkits possibly useful for A1: see the "Resources" tab at the top of this page. Note that Cornell's ConvoKit comes with the CMV data.

Class images, links and handouts

New Yorker cartoon showing most business people at a meeting in ridiculous outfits, but one person isn't.  Caption: Damn it, Hopkins, didn't you get yesteryad's memo?
Image source: Jack Ziegler, The New Yorker, 06/09/2015. License obtained through The Cartoon Bank


#5 Sep 9: (lecture cancelled: out sick)


  • Reminder: A1 milestone: post pilot-study idea(s) by tonight, and if grouping, do so on CMS by tomorrow night.
#6 Sep 14: Quick look at settings mentioned last time; some nuts and bolts


  • Next assignment, "A1 Reflection", released
  • Reminder: A1 milestone: post project update by tomorrow night

Class images, links and handouts


#7 Sep 16: A1 group/individual appointments


  • Reminder: A1 milestone: submit project report on CMS by Monday night, in-class presentations on Tuesday
#8 Sep 21: A1 class presentations


Oct 12: No class — Fall Break
Oct 26: No class — No class
Oct 28: No class — No class
Nov 25: No class — Thanksgiving Break
Dec 18, 4:30pm: Last possible time the final project writeup can be due. Actual due date to be determined by the registrar.

Code for generating the calendar formatting adapted from Andrew Myers. Portions of the content of this website and course were created by collaboration between Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil and Lillian Lee over multiple runnings of this course.