Intro To Computational Linguistics

Intro To Computational Linguistics


Natural language processing comes in many varieties. The most robust natural language systems are tailored to the most limited applications. The simplest approach to natural language processing is to program the computer to look for a limited set of key words or phrases. When the computer finds these words it produces a programmed response. The ELIZA program offers a particularly compelling example of the keyword approach to natural language processing. ELIZA was written at MIT in the mid-1960s to mimic the role of a psychoanalyst interviewing a patient. Examples of ELIZA and related programs are now widely available on the web and personal computers.

ELIZA was never intended to be a model of natural language understanding, yet it is still one of the most popular artificial intelligence programs in the public domain. As long as the user accepts the premise that the program is conducting an open-ended interview, ELIZA can produce a convincing imitation of a talking computer. ELIZA works by searching for a list of keywords in the input. If the program finds one of these words, it asks a preprogrammed question that centers around the keyword. If the program does not find a word on its list, it chooses from a set of open-ended responses, such as Tell me more or Go on. Continue reading “Intro To Computational Linguistics”

Science Finally Explains Why Books Smell So Darn Good | Brit + Co

Science Finally Explains Why Books Smell So Darn Good | Brit + Co

Ask an avid reader what their favorite scent in the world is, and the answer is almost immediate: the intoxicating smell of old books. Whether you’re taking a good whiff in an indie bookstore or breathing in the delicate pages of an ancient volume at a local library, there’s no denying that old books smell damn good.

But why exactly is that?

Well, thanks to Andy Brunning, a Cambridge chemistry teacher who devotes his free time to debunking complicated chemistry, you don’t need a master’s degree to find out.

If you go into your local Barnes and Noble and sniff a few different volumes, odds are they all smell a little bit different. This is because each individual publisher has different preferences when it comes to paper, ink and book binding materials, which means that the chemical compounds found in new books are extremely varied. This, in turn, leads to each individual title having a slightly different scent, making the exact smell of new books difficult to pinpoint.
Continue reading “Science Finally Explains Why Books Smell So Darn Good | Brit + Co”

Wait! The Web Isn’t Dead After All. Google Made Sure of It | WIRED

Wait! The Web Isn’t Dead After All. Google Made Sure of It | WIRED

IN 2010, THE web died. Or so said the publication you’re reading right now.

In a WIRED cover story that summer, then-editor-in-chief Chris Anderson proclaimed the demise of the World Wide Web—that vast, interconnected, wonderfully egalitarian universe of internet pages and services we can visit through browser software running on computers of all kinds. We had, he said, departed the web for apps—those specialized, largely unconnected, wonderfully powerful tools we download onto particular types of phones and tablets. “As much as we love the open, unfettered Web,” he wrote, “we’re abandoning it for simpler, sleeker services that just work.”

At about the same time, Rahul Roy-Chowdhury took charge of the Google team that oversees Chrome, the company’s web browser. “I remember the ‘Web is Dead’ article very clearly,” he remembers. “I thought: ‘Oh My God. I’ve made a huge mistake.’” Needless to say, he didn’t really believe that. But there’s some truth in there somewhere. Though the web was hardly dead, it was certainly struggling in the face of apps. Six years later, however, Roy-Chowdhury believes the web is on the verge of a major resurgence, even as the world moves more and more of its Internet activities away from the desktop and onto phones.

As evidence, he points to the growing popularity of the mobile version of Chrome. This morning, as Google releases the latest incarnation of its browser, the company has revealed that a billion people now use Chrome on mobile devices each month—about the same number that use it on desktops and laptops.

But Roy-Chowdhury goes further still. After another six years of work, he says, Google and others have significantly improved the web’s underlying technologies to the point where services built for browsers can now match the performance of apps in some cases—and exceed it in others. “The web needed to adapt to mobile. And it was a rocky process. But it has happened,” he proclaims from a room inside the Google building that houses the Chrome and Android teams. “We’ve figured out.”

Pelican books take flight again | Books | The Guardian

Pelican books take flight again | Books | The Guardian

The fashionability of Pelicans, which lasted at least into the 70s, was connected to this breaking open of radical new ideas to public understanding – not in academic jargon but in clearly expressed prose. But it was also because they looked so good. The first Pelicans were, like the Penguins, beneficiaries of the 30s passion for design. They had the iconic triband covers conceived by Edward Young – in Lane’s words, “a bright splash of fat colour” with a white band running horizontally across the centre for displaying author and title in Gill Sans. A pelican appeared flying on the cover and standing on the spine. After the war, Lane employed as a designer the incomparable Jan Tschichold, a one-time associate of the Bauhaus and known for his Weimar film posters. His Pelicans had a central white panel framed by a blue border containing the name of the imprint on each side.

In the 60s the books changed again, to the illustrative covers designed by Germano Facetti, art director from 1961 to 72. Facetti, a survivor of Mauthausen labour camp who had worked in Milan as a typographer and in Paris as an interior designer, transformed the Penguin image, as John Walsh has written, “from linear severity and puritanical simplicity into a series of pictorial coups”. The 60s covers by Facetti (eg The Stagnant Society by Michael Shanks), and by the designers he took on – Jock Kennier (eg Alex Comfort’s Sex in Society), Derek Birdsall (eg The Naked Society) – are ingenious, arresting invitations to a world of new thinking.

Jenny Diski has written of subscribing in the 60s to “the unofficial University of Pelican Books course”, which was all about “gathering information and ideas about the world. Month by month, titles came out by Laing and Esterson, Willmott and Young, JK Galbraith, Maynard Smith, Martin Gardner, Richard Leakey, Margaret Mead; psychoanalysts, sociologists, economists, mathematicians, historians, physicists, biologists and literary critics, each offering their latest thinking for an unspecialised public, and the blue spines on the pile of books on the floor of the bedsit increased.”

“If you weren’t at university studying a particular discipline (and even if you were),” she goes on, “Pelican books were the way to get the gist of things, and education seemed like a capacious bag into which all manner of information was thrown, without the slightest concern about where it belonged in the taxonomy of knowledge. Anti-psychiatry, social welfare, economics, politics, the sexual behaviour of young Melanesians, the history of science, the anatomy of this, that and the other, the affluent, naked and stagnant society in which we found ourselves.”

Owen Hatherley has described the Pelicans of the late 60s as “human emancipation through mass production … hot-off-the-press accounts of the ‘new French revolution’ would go alongside texts on scientific management, with Herbert Marcuse next to Fanon, next to AJP Taylor, and all of this conflicting and intoxicating information in a pocket-sized form, on cheap paper and with impeccably elegant modernist covers.”

Pelican books take flight again | Books | The Guardian

Pelican books take flight again | Books | The Guardian

2. The Common Reader by Virginia Woolf (1938)
A collection of essays on literary subjects. The “common reader … differs from the critic and the scholar … He reads for his own pleasure rather than to impart knowledge.” The Second Common Reader soon followed.

3. An Outline of European Architecture by Nikolaus Pevsner (1943)
Pevsner was one of Allen Lane’s best signings (the publisher gave the green light to The Buildings of England series). Pevsner was responsible for the magisterial Pelican History of Art series; An Outline sold half a million copies.

5. The Pelican Guide to English Literature, edited by Boris Ford (from 1954)
Ford was a Leavisite, but Leavis apparently wasn’t best pleased with this spreading of the word to the masses (contributors included TS Eliot, Lionel Trilling and Geoffrey Grigson). But it was a great if always controversial success. One volume, The Age of Chaucer, alone sold 560,000 copies.

6. The Uses of Literacy by Richard Hoggart (1958)
The text on the original Pelican cover reads: “A vivid and detached analysis of the assumptions, attitudes and morals of working-class people in northern England, and the way in which magazines, films and other mass media are likely to influence them.”


Pelican books take flight again | Books | The Guardian

Pelican books take flight again | Books | The Guardian

As the non-fiction Penguin imprint relaunches, Paul Laity tells the story of the blue‑spined books that inspired generations of self-improvers – and transformed the publishing world.


“The really amazing thing, the extraordinary eye-opener that surprised the most optimistic of us, was the immediate and overwhelming success of the Pelicans.” So wrote Allen Lane, founder of Penguin and architect of the paperback revolution, who had transformed the publishing world by selling quality books for the price of a packet of cigarettes.

Millions of orange Penguins had already been bought when they were joined in 1937 by the pale blue non-fiction Pelicans. “Who would have imagined,” he continued, “that, even at 6d, there was a thirsty public anxious to buy thousands of copies of books on science, sociology, economics, archaeology, astronomy and other equally serious subjects?”

His instinct was not only commercially astute but democratic. The launching of the Penguins and Pelicans (“Good books cheap”) caused a huge fuss, and not simply among staid publishers: the masses were now able to buy not just pulp, but “improving”, high-calibre books – whatever next! Lane and his defenders argued that owning such books should not be the preserve of the privileged class. He had no truck with those people “who despair at what they regard as the low level of people’s intelligence”.

Lane came up with the name – so the story goes – when he heard someone who wanted to buy a Penguin at a King’s Cross station bookstall mistakenly ask for “one of those Pelican books”. He acted fast to create a new imprint. The first Pelican was George Bernard Shaw‘s The Intelligent Woman’s Guide to Socialism, Capitalism, Sovietism and Fascism. “A sixpenny edition” of the book, the author modestly suggested, “would be the salvation of mankind.” Such was the demand that booksellers had to travel to the Penguin stockroom in taxis and fill them up with copies before rushing back to their shops.

It helped of course that this was a decade of national and world crisis. For Lane, the public “wanted a solid background to give some coherence to the newspaper’s scintillating confusion of day-to-day events”.