Dr Nina Dethlefs


Hello, I am a Lecturer in Computer Science at the University of Hull, Yorkshire, UK, a member of the Computational Science Research Group, and a member of The Digital Centre. Previously, I was a Lecturer in Linguistics and before that I was a Research Fellow in the Interaction Lab at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh. I have a PhD in Computational Linguistics from the University of Bremen, Germany.

My research interests are in computational linguistics, particularly in computational language learning for interactive systems and natural language generation. I investigate machine learning models that can automatically extract linguistic patterns from data, and use these to understand and generate language in new contexts. To do this, I have mainly used supervised learning and clustering in the past. Recently, I have started to look into deep learning, particularly recurrent neural nets. I have also worked with (hierarchical) reinforcement learning to optimise sequential decision making for natural language generation. This has involved exploring simulation techniques for learning.

In terms of domains, I have worked on situated interaction scenarios such as navigation in real and virtual environments, information-seeking dialogue (mostly restaurants) and assistive technology. The latter has focused mostly on cognitive stimulation software for dementia. More details on these projects can be found on the research page. Hull has a high-performance computer now, Viper, so I am planning to do more research on deep learning from big data and for open-domains in the nearer future. As part of this, I am also looking into domain-specific languages for natural language processing and learning.

Contact: University of Hull, School of Engineering and Computer Science, Cottingham Road, HU6 7RX Hull, UK. Email: n.dethlefs@hull.ac.uk


January 2017: We're recruiting 4 fully-funded PhD students in machine learning and big data. [May 2017: These are now closed and scholarships have been awarded to the successful candidates. Email me if though you're interested in doing a self-funded PhD with an NLP perspective.]

December 2016: Nvidia donated a Titan X Pascal for my research on deep learning.

September 2016: I'm giving an invited talk at the NIPS Workshop on Let's Discuss: Learning Methods for Dialogue.

1 September 2016: I've moved from Linguistics to Computer Science.

25 July 2016: Computational linguistics in Hull and Viper were in the news in Scientific Computing.

July 2016: I'm an area chair for Dialogue and Multimodal Interfaces at COLING-2016 this year.