Applications are closed for 2013.
We are looking for interested and qualified students (graduate and undergraduate) to spend the summer working with ongoing research projects at USC/ISI on natural language processing, machine learning, statistical modeling, machine translation, automata, and other areas.
These are paid internships. They will be available for a three month period during the summer of 2013.
Good programming skills are required, but prior experience in natural language processing is not necessarily required. We will provide tutorials on relevant topics at the beginning of the summer.
For summer research projects, we are interested in the following areas:
1. Semantics-Based Statistical Machine Translation
Translating human languages (e.g., Chinese to English) is a longstanding challenge for computer science. We plan a team project on semantics-based statistical translation, automatically annotating bilingual text with meaning structures, building a framework to map these structures to and from syntactic trees in source and target languages, extracting probabilistic mapping rules from data, designing semantic structures, etc. We are inspired by Warren Weaver's notion (1949): "Thus it may be true that the way to translate from Chinese to Arabic, or from Russian to Portuguese, is not to attempt the direct route, shouting from tower to tower. Perhaps the way is to descend, from each language, down to the common base of human communication -- the real but as yet undiscovered universal language -- and then re-emerge by whatever particular route is convenient."
2. Machine Translation in New Domains
Although machine translation in well-studied domains like newswire is making good progress, translation in other domains continues to lag behind. We are interested in exploring new methods for improving translation in domains like Twitter, email, and scientific articles.
3. Automata Theory for Natural Language ProcessingProbabilistic string and tree automata have proven very useful as underlying frameworks for machine translation and other language-processing problems. Software toolkits like Carmel and Tiburon deliver highly efficient, re-usable algorithms in those realms. We are very interested in developing graph automata to take this to the next level -- to provide a well-founded, efficient system for manipulating graph-based semantic structures.
Code-cracking and machine translation have an intimately tied history. The first job of proto-computers was to crack military codes, and the idea arose soon afterwards of treating foreign language as a code for English. We have several investigations planned, inspired by results we have recently reported: (1) cracking of the Copiale cipher (see also here and here) , (2) discoveries concerning the Voynich manuscript, and (3) the training of a statistical machine translation system without the need for parallel data. If there is enough expressed interest in the mysterious Voynich manuscript, we may organize an interdisciplinary Voynich summer workshop with several participants.
5. Creative Language
In the not-too-distant future, stories, poems, songs, and advertisements will be written by machines, and by human/machine collaborations. We are starting down this path now (for example, see here and here), and there are many research avenues to pursue.
Summer internship projects are supervised by Kevin Knight and David Chiang, and interns also interact and collaborate closely with the rest of the Natural Language Group. Our group's research environment includes weekly seminars and reading groups, opportunities for teaching and advising, an active program for summer students, large quantities of linguistic resources, and a 2000-processor supercomputing cluster completely dedicated to natural language research at USC/ISI.
USC/ISI is an academic research institute that is part of USC's Viterbi School of Engineering; many USC/ISI scientists hold research faculty positions in the computer science department. The Natural Language Group is part of USC/ISI's Intelligent Systems Division which carries out a wide range of artificial intelligence research.
USC/ISI is located in Marina del Rey on the Southern California coast, an excellent location convenient to beaches, restaurants, boating, bike paths, and shopping. Note: we are not located on the main campus of USC, which is near downtown LA.
Past InternsOur summer program is well established! Past students are listed below. People really loved this place -- six of them (marked with a *) interned twice, and seven of them (marked with a ^) joined ISI eventually (as a PhD student, visiting PhD student, or research scientist).
2012: Jacob Andreas (Columbia), Daniel Bauer (Columbia), Karl Moritz Hermann (Oxford), Bevan Jones (Edinburgh/Macquarrie), Nathan Schneider (CMU), Ada Wan (CUNY).
2007: Michael Bloodgood (Delaware), Jennifer Gillenwater (Rice University), Carmen Heger (Dresden), Wei Ho (Princeton).
2002: Chris Ackerman (USC), Emil Ettelaie (USC), Yuling Hsueh (USC), John Lee (Waterloo/MIT), Bo Pang (Cornell)
1994-2000: Estibaliz Amorrortu, Vasileios Hatzivassiloglou (Columbia), Michael Jahr (Stanford), Larry Kite (USC), Magdalena Romera (USC), Maki Watanabe (USC).
Intern PublicationsWe always aim to solve interesting and novel scientific problems, and to publish the results in the best conferences. Sample papers that have come from past student internships:
"Parsing Graphs with Hyperedge Replacement Grammars" (D. Chiang, J. Andreas, D. Bauer, K.-M. Hermann, B. Jones and K. Knight), Proceedings of ACL 2013.
"Semantics-Based Machine Translation with Hyperedge Replacement Grammars" (B. Jones, J. Andreas, D. Bauer, K.-M. Hermann, K. Knight), Proceedings of COLING 2012.
"Feature-Rich Language-Independent Syntax-Based Alignment for Statistical Machine Translation" (J. Riesa, A. Irvine, D. Marcu), Proceedings of EMNLP 2011.
"Language-independent parsing with empty elements" (S. Cai, D. Chiang, Y. Goldberg), Proceedings of ACL 2011.
"Automatic Analysis of Rhythmic Poetry with Applications to Generation and Translation" (E. Greene, T. Bodrumlu, K. Knight), Proceedings of EMNLP 2010.
"Efficient optimization of an MDL-inspired objective function for unsupervised part-of-speech tagging" (A. Vaswani, A. Pauls, D. Chiang), Proceedings of ACL 2010.
"Unsupervised Syntactic Alignment with Inversion Transduction Grammars" (A. Pauls, D. Klein, D. Chiang, K. Knight), Proceedings of NAACL 2010.
"Bayesian Inference for Finite-State Transducers" (D. Chiang, J. Graehl, K. Knight, A. Pauls, S. Ravi), Proceedings of NAACL 2010.
"Binarization of Synchronous Context-Free Grammars" (L. Huang, H. Zhang, D. Gildea, K. Knight), Computational Linguistics, 2009.
"Fast Consensus Decoding over Translation Forests" (J. DeNero, D. Chiang, and K. Knight). Proceedings of ACL 2009.
"Forest Rescoring: Faster Decoding with Integrated Language Models" (L. Huang and D. Chiang), Proceedings of ACL 2007.
"Scalable Inference and Training of Context-Rich Syntactic Models" (M. Galley, J. Graehl, K. Knight, D. Marcu, S. DeNeefe, W. Wang, and I. Thayer), Proceedings of ACL 2006, poster session.
"Synchronous Binarization for Machine Translation" (H. Zhang, L. Huang, D. Gildea, K. Knight), Proceedings of NAACL 2006.
"Statistical Syntax-Directed Translation with Extended Domain of Locality" (L. Huang, K. Knight, A. Joshi), Proceedings of the Conference of the Association for Machine Translation in the Americas (AMTA-06).
"Building an English-Iraqi Arabic Machine Translation System for Spoken Utterances with Limited Resources" (J. Riesa, B. Mohit, K. Knight, D. Marcu), Proceedings of Interspeech 2006.
"Text Simplification for Information Seeking Applications" (B. Beigman Klebanov, K. Knight, D. Marcu), In: On the Move to Meaningful Internet Systems, eds. R. Meersman and Z. Tari, Lecture Notes in Computer Science (3290), Springer-Verlag, 2004.
"What's in a Translation Rule?" (M. Galley, M. Hopkins, K. Knight, D. Marcu), Proceedings of NAACL 2004.
"Syntax-based Alignment of Multiple Translations: Extracting Paraphrases and Generating New Sentences" (B. Pang, K. Knight, and D. Marcu), Proceedings of NAACL 2003.
"Using a Large Monolingual Corpus to Improve Translation Accuracy" (R. Soricut, K. Knight, and D. Marcu), Proceedings of the 6th Association for Machine Translation in the Americas Conference (AMTA-2002).
"Processing Comparable Corpora With Bilingual Suffix Trees" (D. Munteanu and D. Marcu), Proceedings of EMNLP 2002.
"A Noisy-Channel Model for Document Compression" (H. Daume III and D. Marcu), Proceedings of ACL 2002.
"An Unsupervised Approach to Recognizing Discourse Relations" (D. Marcu and A. Echihabi), Proceedings of ACL 2002.
"Fast Decoding and Optimal Decoding for Machine Translation" (U. Germann, M. Jahr, K. Knight, D. Marcu, and K. Yamada), Proceedings of ACL 2001. ACL Best Paper award.
"An Empirical Study in Multilingual Natural Language Generation: What Should a Text Planner Do?" (D. Marcu, L. Carlson, and M. Watanabe), The 1st International Conference on Natural Language Generation INLG'2000, Mitzpe Ramon, Israel, 2000.
"Experiments in Constructing a Corpus of Discourse Trees" (D. Marcu, E. Amorrortu, and M. Romera), ACL'99 Workshop on Standards and Tools for Discourse Tagging, Univ. Maryland, 1999.
"Two-Level, Many-Paths Generation," (K. Knight and V. Hatzivassiloglou), Proceedings of ACL 1995.
Frequently Asked Questions
(Please read these before contacting us...)
- Q: Is the salary enough for a decent life in westside LA? What will the exact salary be?
A: Yes, of course! Our internship compensation is competitive with industrial internships. Housing is generally expensive in this area (because it's safe, beautiful, and close to the ocean), but definitely affordable with the salary we offer. The exact amount is yet to be determined (and will be stated on the offer letter), but again it will be enough for a decent life for 3 months.
- Q: During the internship, can I go to a conference for a week or so?
Or a short vacation?
A: Conferences are definitely OK especially when you have a paper there, but in any case there should be at least 12 weeks of work here (otherwise it's hard to get anything sizable done). We generally discourage vacations over a week during the internship.
- Q: Can I keep working on the projects after going back to my own school?
A: In general yes, especially when you are writing up a paper on the topic. Most likely you will be logging in remotely to work on our machines.
- Q: Can I survive without a car here?
A: For three months, definitely yes. Many of our past interns did not own a car while here, and they either bike or take a bus to ISI. Unlike other parts of LA, we do have reliable buslines systems here in this area. The famous Santa Monica "big blue" buses serve UCLA, Santa Monica, Palms, Venice, ISI, and LAX, and Culver City buslines serve Culver City, Venice, ISI, and LAX. In addition, LA metrolink buses take you to downtown LA. Furthermore, LAX is very close to ISI (10 minutes by bus) so air travel is convenient.
- Q: Are international students eligible to apply?
A: Yes, we do take on international students (as evidenced in the past interns list).
- For international students currently studying in the United States (F-1 holders), we will help you get an OPT or CPT status on top of your F-1, which is generally straighforward. CPT is largely preferred because it takes much shorter time to get approved but requires you to register for (at least) one unit in the summer. OPT usually takes 2-3 months to get approved, but you don't need to register any unit. For details about CPT/OPT, please consult your school's international student office.
- For international students currently studying outside the United States, we will help you get a J-1 visa.
- Q: I have other plans in the summer, so can I intern during Fall or Spring?
A: No, we only take summer interns (and they have to start by June 1), but they can extend their stays into the Fall semester if needed.