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Natural Language Processing Spring 2020

Imagine a world where you can pick up a phone and talk in English, while at the other end of the line your words are spoken in Chinese. Imagine a computer animated representation of yourself speaking fluently what you have written in an email. Imagine automatically uncovering protein/drug interactions in petabytes of medical abstracts. Imagine feeding a computer an ancient script that no living person can read, then listening as the computer reads aloud in this dead language. Imagine a computer that can do better than humans at answering questions.

Natural Language Processing is the automatic analysis of human languages such as English, Korean, and thousands of others analyzed by computer algorithms. Unlike artificially created programming languages where the structure and meaning of programs is easy to encode, human languages provide an interesting challenge, both in terms of its analysis and the learning of language from observations.


Teaching Assistants

  • Yasaman Etesam, yetesam, Office hour: Time: Fri 1/17 3:30pm-4:30pm, regularly Mon 2-3pm. Location: ASB 9808.
  • Ali Gholami, gholami, Office hour: Time: Tues 1-2pm. Location: ASB 9808.
  • Roya Javadi, rjavadi, Office hour: Time: Thu 9:30-10:30am. Location: ASB 9808.

Asking for help

  • Ask for help on piazza
  • Instructor office hours: Fri 10:30-11:30am. TASC1 8031
  • No emails to the TAs and strictly emails about personal matters to the instructor
  • Use only SFU email address and use cmpt825: as subject prefix

Time and place

  • Tue 3:30-4:50 AQ 3149
  • Thu 3:30-4:50 AQ 3149
  • Last day of classes: Apr 9, 2020


  • No required textbook. Online readings provided in Syllabus.


  • Submit homework source code and check your grades on Coursys
  • Programming setup homework: HW0 due on Jan 16, 2020 (2%)
  • Four programming homeworks. Due dates: HW1 on Jan 30, 2020, HW2 on Feb 13, 2020, HW3 on Mar 5, 2020, HW4 on Mar 19, 2020 (10% each)
  • In class midterm: Feb 25, 2020 (25%)
  • Participation: Helping other students on the discussion board in a positive way (5%)
  • Final Project Proposal: Due on Mar 12, 2020 (5%)
  • Final Project Milestone: Due on Mar 26, 2020 (5%)
  • Final Project: Due on Apr 14, 2020 (18%)