James Pustejovsky (Brandeis University) “Modeling Common Ground for Multimodal Communication”

April 6, 2018 @ 12:00 pm – 1:15 pm
Hackerman B17
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore, MD 21218


The demand for more sophisticated human-computer interactions is rapidly increasing, as users become more accustomed to conversation-like interactions with their devices. In this paper, we examine this changing landscape in the context of human-machine interaction in a shared workspace to achieve a common goal. In our prototype system, people and avatars cooperate to build blocks world structures through the interaction of language, gesture, vision, and action. This provides a platform to study computational issues involved in multimodal communication.  In order to establish elements of the common ground in discourse between speakers, we have created an embodied 3D simulation, enabling both the generation and interpretation of multiple modalities, including: language, gesture, and the visualization of objects moving and agents acting in their environment. The simulation is built on the modeling language VoxML, that encodes objects with rich semantic typing and action affordances, and actions themselves as multimodal programs, enabling contextually salient inferences and decisions in the environment.  We illustrate this with a walk-through  of multimodal communication in a shared task.
James Pustejovsky is the TJX Feldberg Chair in Computer Science at Brandeis University, where he is also Chair of the Linguistics Program, Chair of the Computational Linguistics MA Program, and Director of the Lab for Linguistics and Computation. He received his B.S. from MIT and his Ph.D. from UMASS at Amherst. He has worked on computational and lexical semantics for twenty five years and is chief developer of Generative Lexicon Theory. Since 2002, he has been working on the development of a platform for temporal reasoning in language, called TARSQI. Pustejovsky is chief architect of TimeML and ISO-TimeML, a recently adopted ISO standard for temporal information in language, as well as ISO-Space, a specification for spatial information in language.
Pustejovsky has authored and/or edited numerous books, including Generative Lexicon (MIT, 1995), The Problem of Polysemy (CUP, with B. Boguraev,1996), The Language of Time: A Reader (OUP, with I. Mani and R. Gaizauskas, 2005), Interpreting Motion: Grounded Representations for Spatial Language (OUP, with I. Mani, 2012), and Natural Language Annotation for Machine Learning, O’Reilly, 2012 (with A. Stubbs). Recently, he has been developing a modeling framework for representing linguistic expressions and interactions as multimodal simulations. This platform, VoxML/VoxSim, enables real-time communication between humans and computers for joint tasks. Recent books include: Recent Advances in Generative Lexicon Theory, (Springer, 2013); The Handbook of Linguistic Annotation, Springer, 2017 (edited with Nancy Ide), and two textbooks, The Lexicon, Cambridge University Press, 2018 (with O. Batiukova), and A Guide to Generative Lexicon Theory, Oxford University Press, 2019 (with E. Jezek). He is presently finishing a book on temporal information processing for O’Reilly with L. Derczynski and M. Verhagen.

Center for Language and Speech Processing