CSCE 638: Natural Language Processing Foundation and Techniques (Fall 2019)

Instructor: Ruihong Huang

  • Location: HRBB 124
  • Time: MWF 3:00-3:50 pm
  • TA: Zhuoer (Eddie) Wang
  • Instructor Email:
  • Instructor Office: 402B HRBB
  • TA Email:
  • TA Office: TBD
  • Credits: 3
  • Office Hours: Wed 10:00 am - 12:00 pm or by appointment
  • TA Office Hours: TBD

  • [08/26] The first meeting will be on 08/26!

Course Description

This is an especially exciting time to study Natural Language Processing (NLP), which aims to enable computers to understand and automatically process human language. This course will focus on NLP fundamentals including language models, automatic syntactic processing and automatic semantic processing, discourse and pragmatics. In addition, this course will also introduce various applications of NLP, including information extraction, sentiment analysis, question and answering, text summarization and machine translation. The students will digest and practice their NLP knowledge and skills by working on programming assignments, in-class quizzes and a final project.

Course Goal

Through this course, students will gain solid theoretical knowledge and enough practical experience to design and develop their own text processing applications in the future.

Evaluation Metrics

You should expect for a lot of programming (four of them), an annotation assignment, a final project and a final exam. In addition, you will be awarded for active class participation, penalized for little participation.

Four Programming Assignments: 40%
Annotation Assignment: 10%
The Final Project: 25% (abstract: 5%, presentation+report+code+data: 20%)
Class participation: 5%
Final Exam (Dec. 12th, 8:00-10:00 am): 20%

The grading policy is as follows:
90-100: A
80-89: B
70-79: C
60-69: D
<60: F

Attendance and Make-up Policies

Every student should attend the class, unless you have an accepted excuse. Please check student rule 7 for details.


It's important that you work on a real nlp project so that you earn first hand experience of basic text processing and learn to deal with high complexity of human language in concrete applications. You are responsible to develop your project ideas. Then the instructor is available to discuss and shape the project if you like. The scale of the project should be a semester long. By the end of the semester, you should submit your code and data for this project, write a project report of 8 pages at maximum, and prepare a class presentation.


Students should have taken the course Data Structure and Algorithms (CSCE 221).

Textbook and Material

Required textbook: Speech and Language Processing, Daniel Jurafsky and James H. Martin, 2008. Prentice Hall; 2nd edition. Relevant tutorials and papers will also be handed out during the class.

Academic Integrity

"An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do." For additional information, please visit:

Upon accepting admission to Texas A&M University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning, and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor System. Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work. Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the TAMU community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor System.

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Statement

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact Disability Services, currently located in the Disability Services building at the Student Services at White Creek complex on west campus or call 979-845-1637. For additional information, visit

Tentative schedule

Week Topic Notes
Week 1 Course Overview, Text Preprocessing p1 out
Text Classification
Week 2 Intro, Naive Bayes
Week 3 Sentiment Analysis, Binarized NB, Discriminative Models p1 due! p2 out
Word Semantics
Week 4 Intro, Sparse Vectors, Dense Vectors
Language Modeling and Sequence Processing
Week 5 N-gram Language Models p2 due!
Week 6 Neural Language Models project abstract due!
Week 7 Parts-of-speech Tagging anno out
Week 8 Intro, Statistical Parsing
Week 9 Statistical Parsing Cont., Dependency Parsing anno due! p3 out
Shallow Sentence Semantics
Week 10 Semantic Role Labeling
Information Extraction
Week 11 Intro, Relation Extraction p3 due! p4 out
Week 12 Coreference Resolution, Event Extraction project due!
Week 13 Project Presentations p4 due!
Week 14 Presentations cont., Thanksgiving Holiday
Week 15 Final term review
Week 16 Final Exam, 12/10 (Tuesday), 10:30am-12:30pm