Seminar: The Search for Emotions in Language

10th Jul 2018 11:00am-12:00pm
Presenter/Speaker: Saif M. Mohammad, Senior Research Scientist, National Research Council Canada
Location: G.1.15

Emotions are central to human experience and behavior. They are crucial for organizing meaning and reasoning about the world we live in. They are ubiquitous and everyday, yet complex and nuanced. In this talk, I will describe our work on the search for emotions in language — by humans and by machines.

I will describe large crowdsourced studies asking people to detect emotions associated with words, phrases, sentences, and tweets. I will flesh out the various ways in which emotions can be represented, challenges in obtaining reliable annotations, and approaches that address these problems.  The lexicons thus created, with entries for tens of thousands of English terms, provide scores along the dimensions of basic emotions as well as valence, arousal, and dominance (argued by some to be the core dimensions of meaning). The lexicons have wide-ranging applications in natural language processing, psychology, social sciences, digital humanities, data sonification, and art. I will highlight some of the applications we have explored in literary analysis and automatic text-based music generation.

In the second part of my talk, I will show how word-emotion lexicons are crucial in detecting emotions in sentences and tweets. This includes the use of the lexicons in our NRC-Canada system that stood first in three SemEval-2013 and SemEval-2014 sentiment analysis shared task competitions, as well as in neural approaches in emotion detection that came first in recent shared tasks we organized. These new tasks include inferring stance from tweets and detecting fine-grained emotion intensity. Finally, I will conclude with work on assessing the extent of inappropriate biases in automatic emotion systems.

Dr. Saif M. Mohammad is Senior Research Scientist at the National Research Council Canada (NRC). He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Toronto. Before joining NRC, Saif was a Research Associate at the Institute of Advanced Computer Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park. His research interests are in Computational Linguistics, especially Lexical Semantics, Crowdsourced Human Annotations, Sentiment Analysis, Social Media Analysis, and Information Visualization. He has served as the area chair for Sentiment Analysis in past ACL conferences. Saif is a co-organizer of WASSA (a sentiment analysis workshop) and co-chair of SemEval (the largest shared task platform for NLP tasks). His work on detecting emotions in social media and on generating music from text have garnered media attention, including articles in Time, Slashdot, LiveScience, io9, The Physics arXiv Blog, PC World, and Popular Science. Webpage:

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