Guest Post: Strong and Weak Genre Classification

Over the summer we’re featuring guest posts by Research Assistants at The Life of Words. Here Cosmin Dzsurdzsa – a 2nd year undergraduate in English at UW – thinks about moving from human intuition to computer rule-making in textual-genre classification:

When trying to automate text classification algorithmically, one has to pay close attention to how humans recognize textual features, while also being reined in by a computer’s capabilities. It is easy for a human to distinguish a poem from a letter, for instance: it happens almost instantly, as the brain picks up on visual cues and simultaneously accesses memory to compare with previously encountered examples. To understand this and attempt to replicate it algorithmically requires some attention to our own human methods, which as often as not are unconscious. By slowing down and breaking up the decision making required to arrive at the right classification, it is possible to note some of the reasons we decide to genre a text a certain way.

There are strong genre problems and weak genre problems. Similarly we can make parallels to strong and weak intelligence machines. Basically, a strong problem is only solvable by sentient intelligence capabilities (like ours) while weak problems can be solved by replicating narrow “decision making” capabilities. Here at LOW, we concentrate on classifying these weak problems and discovering their underlying logic.

For example, given the genre categories “poem” and “verse drama”, could a computer distinguish between these two Shakespearean couplets? Read More


Guest Post: A Winter-Evening Conference and the Problem of Genre

Cosmin Dzsurdzsa is well into his first full-time co-op term as a research assistant at The Life of Words. Here he tells us about a case that seemed to challenge every classification rule we developed. What is “genre”? This is a question I constantly find myself asking as an RA here at The Life of […]


Morsels, a kind of poem

Latest in the “A kind of poem” series [previous: here, here, and here], I give you is “Morsels”, a kind of poem: .


Guest Post: Moving from 2.0 to 3.0

Danielle Griffin recently completed her co-op term as a full-time research assistant at The Life of Words. Here she offers some thoughts about her work on identifying the textual genre of quotations in the Oxford English Dictionary: When I started my job as an RA, Dr. Williams had me tagging quotations five days a week […]


Competition Anthology Published

We’ve published our 2016 Life of Words Anthology, presenting fifteen meritorious poems sent to us in our “Write a Poem about a Word” competition. It’s available here: Congratulations to all!


Etymologies

Anstruther Press has recently published Etymologies, a chapbook of poems by Asa Boxer, with an introductory essay by me: See the page at Anstruther Press for more details.


Last Day to Submit a Poem for the 2016 Poetry Contest

Today is the last day for Ontario secondary school students to submit a poem to The Life of Words Poetry Competition 2016. Keep your eye on the contest page for upcoming news, and for eventual publication of The Life of Words Anthology 2016, which will print the winning entry and all honourable mentions. We’re received […]


How did OED Supplements Supplement?

There has always been an interest in the changing editorial practice within and between various editions of the Oxford English Dictionary. Recently some scholars have complained that changing electronic interfaces are making it impossible to distinguish what edition a particular definition or quotation is coming from. See, e.g., Charlotte Brewer, “OED Online Re-launched: Distinguishing old […]


Life of Words Poetry Competition

Good news for Ontario secondary school students who like words: The Life of Words is announcing the first in what will be an annual poetry competition, in which we invite submissions of poems about words and reward excellence with some pretty great prizes. Here is the competition web page, where we’ll post links, news, and […]


Vector Space and Poetic Logic

I’ve been spending the weekend experimenting with vector space modelling and poetic language. Vector space word embedding models use learning algorithms on very large corpora in order map a unique location in n-dimensional space to each token (=word) in the corpus. “N-dimensional space” is just a mathy-sounding way of saying that multiple (or n) features […]