We’re hiring academic assistants!

We’re hiring academic assistants!

Are you a Master Student in AI, Computer Science, Linguistics or Communication Science?
Do you want to get paid for working in an exciting research project that combines research strengths from different disciplines?

We are currently looking for student assistants for three interdisciplinary projects involving computational linguistics, computer science, communication science and history. Positions are for 1 day per week during the academic year 2014-2015.

The projects:

More information on the projects can be found on their individual websites.

How to Apply

Information on how to apply for individual projects can be found on the projects’ websites.

If you want to apply for more than one project, please send an email to the project managers [1] <aa_applications@googlegroups.com>, listing:

– your undergraduate degree,
– the master courses you have taken and intend to take,
– a list of your grades,
– a brief motivation, indicating preference for a particular project (if any)
– an indication of your availability (starting date).

[1] Project managers are (in alphabetical order):

  • Antske Fokkens
  • Laura Hollink
  • Annette Ten Teije
  • Serge Ter Braake
  • Wouter Van Atteveldt
  • Marieke Van Erp

1st VU-Spinoza workshop: Oct. 17, 2014


– an escape from the world of language –

Spinoza Prize projects (2014-2019)
Prof. dr. Piek Vossen

Understanding language by machines
1st VU-Spinoza workshop

Friday, October 17, 2014 from 12:30 PM to 6:00 PM (CEST)

Atrium, room D-146, VU Medical Faculty (1st floor, D-wing)
Van der Boechorststraat 7
1081 BT Amsterdam

Please RSVP via Eventbrite before October 03, 2014


Can machines understand language? According to John Searle, this is fundamentally impossible. He used the Chinese Room thought-experiment to demonstrate that computers follow instructions to manipulate symbols without understanding of these symbols. William van Orman Quine even questioned the understanding of language by humans, since symbols are only grounded through approximation by cultural situational convention. Between these extreme points of views, we are nevertheless communicating every day as part of our social behavior (within Heidegger’s hermeneutic circle), while more and more computers and even robots take part in communication and social interactions.

The goal of the Spinoza project “Understanding of language by machines” (ULM) is to scratch the surface of this dilemma by developing computer models that can assign deeper meaning to language that approximates human understanding and to use these models to automatically read and understand text. We are building a Reference Machine: a machine that can map natural language to the extra- linguistic world as we perceive it and represent it in our brain.

This is the first in a series of workshops that we will organize in the Spinoza project to discuss and work on these issues. It marks the kick-off of 4 projects that started in 2014, each studying different aspects of understanding and modeling this through novel computer programs. Every 6-months, we will organize a workshop or event that will bring together different research lines to this central theme and on a shared data sets.

We investigate ambiguity, variation and vagueness of language; the relation between language, perception and the brain; the role of the world view of the writer of a text and the role of the world view and background knowledge of the reader of a text.

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ Program ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

12:30 – 13:00 Welcome

13:00 – 13:30 Understanding language by machines: Piek Vossen
13:30 – 14:30 Borders of ambiguity: Marten Postma and Ruben Izquierdo
14:30 – 15:00 Word, concept, perception and brain: Emiel van Miltenburg and Alessandro Lopopolo
15:00 – 15:15 Coffee break
15:15 – 15:45 Stories and world views as a key to understanding: Tommaso Caselli and Roser Morante
15:45 – 16:15 A quantum model of text understanding: Minh Lê Ngọc and Filip Ilievski
16:15 – 17:00 Discussion on building a shared demonstrator: a reference machine
17:00 – 18:00 Drinks

For more information on the project see Understanding of Language by Machines.

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ RSVP ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

Admission is free. Please RSVP via Eventbrite before October 03, 2014.

▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬ Location ▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬▬

Atrium, room D-146, VU Medical Faculty (1st floor, D-wing)
Van der Boechorststraat 7
1081 BT Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Parking info N.B. Campus parking is temporarily unavailable.


OpeNER Hackathon: June 30 2014

OpeNER Travel Hackathon, June 30 2014 8:30 AM at Casa 400, Amsterdam

    At the hackathon you will have access to OpeNER’s comprehensive text analysis tools, which include named entity recognition, sentiment analysis and opinion detection.
    The OpenNER tools allow you to explore questions like who is mentioned in this text? Which opinions regarding the World Cup are given in this piece? What is the sentiment towards Amsterdam in this article?