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Visualizing Pacing & Intonation
Computer-Assisted Language Learning
Wast that Sarcasm?
Machine Learning
Error-Handling in Weather Voice UIs
Wizard-Of-Oz Prototyping
Demystifying Nuclear Power
$10,000 IEEE Foundation Grant
DIY Paper Chess Set
Paper Modeling

Visualizing Pacing & Intonation

Computer-Assisted Language-Learning
Term
UBC 2018 Winter Term 2
Instructor
Dongwook Yoon
Keywords
  • Human Computer Interaction
  • Scaffolded Learning
  • Prosody
  • Computer-Assisted Language Learning

Unraveling the subtleties of intonation and pacing can be a challenge for non-native English speakers to master on their own. However, these two prosodic features are crucial elements of clear, comprehensible speech. Practicing intonation and pacing through oral reading can be puzzling because novice learners may not know when to pause and how to pace their words. Furthermore, they can find it difficult to pronounce words that have identical spellings, but have totally different meanings linked to subtle shifts in intonation. For example, ˈäbjekt refers to a material object whereas /əbˈjekt/ refers to expressing disapproval. In this project, I addressed this problem by designing and testing four visual scaffolds that that augment and alter plain text and incorporate the missing sound features.

Gaussian Blurring and Underlining

Cuisenaire Rods, Bolding & Capitalization

To evaluate my ideas, I built a prototype and asked 9 participants to create 652 oral recordings of different sample sentences with and without the support of different combinations of those four visual scaffolds. Results from two experiments indicated that (i) dynamic gaussian blurring can be an effective means for controlling speech pace and (ii) a combination of bolding, capitalization and Cuisenaire rod overlays can help convey information on syllable and word level stress.

Was that Sarcasm?

Classifying Sarcastic Comments on Reddit Using Word Embeddings
Machine Learning
Collaborator
Kyle Clarkson
Term
UBC 2018 Winter Term 1
Instructor
Mark Schmidt
Artifact
Keywords
  • KNN
  • Doc2Vec
  • Word Embedding
  • Supervised Learning
  • Naïve Bayes
  • Logistic Regression

We explored the use of word embedding models to represent various Reddit comments as high-dimensional vectors and applied these vectors as inputs to a collection of classification models to classify comments as either being sarcastic or not. Further, we compared the performance of word embedding models to traditional text-classification techniques using a bag-of-n-grams representation. Five-fold cross-validation results on various models using 250,000 and 150,000 comments showed that a simple Bernoulli Naive-Bayes classifiers using unigrams and bigrams worked best, with validation error rates as low 30.9%. The more sophisticated vector representations using word-embedding proved to be inadequate for classifying sarcastic comments, with validation errors ranging from 39.46% using an SVM with RBF change-of-basis classifier, to 55.435% using Logistic Regression with L2 regularization.


Kyle did some fantastic T-SNE plots of 200 dimensional vector representations of various comments using Doc2Vec yielded some particularly interesting serpent-like results. We ended up calling them Sarcastic Snakes.

All Comments

Comments from r/AskReddit

Comments from the r/Politics

Comments fromthe r/Worldnews

Error-Handling in Weather Voice User Interfaces

Wizard-of-Oz Prototyping
Industry Partner
Industry Liaison
Sarah Main

Director of Product - WeatherBug

Term
UBC 2018 Winter Term 2
Mentor
Sidney Fels
Artifact
Keywords
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Wizard-Of-Oz
  • VUI
  • Rapid Prototyping

We worked with an industry liaison from WeatherBug, a leading weather-information service provider, to tackle the problem of error-handling in weather Voice-User-Interfaces (VUIs). We identified several error-handling strategies from the literature and implemented them in our VUI prototyping tool. The tool also facilitated a Wizard of Oz user study, in which we tested our error handling strategies against the ones currently used in the WeatherBug Alexa app. We conducted a user study and evaluated four strategies (rapid re-prompt; detail escalation; context awareness; and grunt mode) and recommended design guidelines to WeatherBug. I handled client communications with the industry liaison, and developed the front-end portion of our VUI Wizard-of-Oz prototyping tool.


Demystifying Nuclear Power

Bangladesh Section's First IEEE Foundation Grant
Collaborators
  • Md. Romael Haque
  • Md. Mahinur Rahman
Keywords
  • Nuclear Power Education
  • IEEE Foundation

I researched and drafted a grant proposal for the IEEE Bangladesh Section while working with them as part of their Student Activities Committee in 2017. For the first time in the section's history, IEEE BDS was awarded a grant of USD 10,000 by the IEEE Foundation as a direct result of that proposal.

In 2017, IEEE Foundation was awarding grants to projects that addressed the following theme: Raise awareness and understanding of science and technology and their potential to address a global challenge.


The foundation mentioned five specific global challenges: (i) energy, (ii) cyber-security, (iii) security, (iv) healthcare and (v) sustainability. Among these, I chose energy as a worthy challenge to address. There were several reasons why I felt this way:

  • Bangladesh has been planning on building a nuclear power plant since the 1960s. Right now, the country is almost exclusively reliant on technology provided by Rosatom, a Russian company.
  • Soon enough, there will be a demand for competent engineers who specialize in nuclear power in the country. Complete reliance on a foreign entity for expertise is not sustainable in the longer run.
  • IEEE can play a major role in encouraging student members to better understand the science and technology behind nuclear power and ways to mitigate associated risks (handling nuclear waste for example).
  • This initiative could be replicated by other IEEE sections in emerging countries that face similar challenges.


The key idea for the intiative is simple - (i) create quality resource material that teache the basic concepts behind nuclear energy technology and (ii) deliver workshops to dissimenate these resources to students across IEEE Region 10.

DIY Paper Chess Set

Paper Modeling
Personal Project
2013
Keywords
  • Chess
  • Paper Modeling
  • 3D Modeling
  • Art

The goal of this project was to see if I could take something fundamentally simple like paper, and create with it something wonderfully complex like a set of chess pieces.

I began by designing the pieces on SketchUp, a 3D modelling application. I kept the geometry simple enough to flatten and fold while still retaining the distinctive features of each chess piece.
Once my pieces were done, I unfolded the 3D shapes into 2D geometric nets using a handy SketchUp plugin called Flattery. I flattened them in a way that minimized the number of resulting components required to reconstruct each piece using cardstock.

Geometric Nets for the the Knight and the King

I compiled my design into this document of geometric nets that anyone can print, cut and fold into a DIY paper chess-set with a few hours of spare time, some glue and oodles of patience.

The Completed Model