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Natural Language Processing for Computational Social Science
Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil · Lillian Lee

Mon Dec 05 02:00 AM -- 04:00 AM (PST) @ Area 3

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 tutorial will examine the opportunities for natural language processing (NLP) to contribute to computational social science, facilitating our understanding of how humans interact with others at both grand and intimate scales.

Learning Objectives:

  • Influence and persuasion: Can language choices affect whether a political ad is successful, a social-media post gets more re-shares, or a get-out-the-vote campaign will work?

  • Language as a reflection of social processes: can we detect status differences, or more broadly, the roles people take in online communities? How does language define collective identity, or signal imminent departure from a community?

  • Group success: can language cues help us predict whether a group will cohere or fracture? Or whether a betrayal is forthcoming? Or whether a team will succeed at its task?

Target Audience:


Author Information

Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil (Cornell University)

Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil is an assistant professor in the information science department at Cornell University. His research aims at developing computational frameworks that can lead to a better understanding of human social behavior, by unlocking the unprecedented potential of the large amounts of natural language data generated online. He is the recipient of several awards, including the WWW 2013 Best Paper Award, a Google Faculty Research Award and a Yahoo! Key Scientific Challenges Award, and his work has been featured in popular-media outlets such as the Wall Street Journal, NBC's The Today Show, NPR, BBC and the New York Times.

Lillian Lee (Cornell University)

Lillian Lee is a professor of computer science and of information science at Cornell University, and the co-Editor-in-Chief of Transactions of the ACL. Her research interests include natural language processing and computational social science. She is the recipient of the inaugural Best Paper Award at HLT-NAACL 2004 (joint with Regina Barzilay) and the 2016 IJCAI NLP Meets Journalism Workshop (joint with Liye Fu and Cristian Danescu-Niculescu-Mizil), a citation in "Top Picks: Technology Research Advances of 2004" by Technology Research News (also joint with Regina Barzilay), and an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship. She is a Fellow of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and of the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL). Her group's work has received several mentions in the popular press, including The New York Times, NPR's All Things Considered, and NBC's The Today Show, and one of her co-authored papers was publicly called "boring" by Youtubers Rhett and Link, in a video viewed over 2.4 million times.