Please join us Tuesday at noon in *CSE 203* for the first Change talk of
the quarter with Dominic Widdows of Grab.

*Who:* Dominic Widdows
*What:* Southeast Asia, NLP, and Grab
*When:* Tuesday, Jan 8, 12-1pm
*Where:* CSE 203

*Abstract*
Grab has become the leading transportation company, and increasingly
technology platform, throughout Southeast Asia. We have unique challenges
and opportunities with language understanding and interfaces. Grab needs to
support a bigger range of languages than any of the comparable ridehailing
companies, and Southeast Asian languages are much less well-resourced than
other world languages that have far fewer speakers. At the same time, we
have large amounts of text through reviews, customer service, and chat, and
some of the unsupervised learning techniques currently at the forefront of
Natural Language Processing and Artificial Intelligence are well-placed to
make use of these texts to enhance our language understanding capabilities.
Long-term dreams include a seamless way to interact with Grab’s products as
if you’re talking to a very knowledgeable concierge. Interim steps include
understanding customer service inquiries, translation, and various kinds of
sentiment analysis. This talk will be a very brief introduction to the
language landscape, NLP techniques, and how we can use them.

*About the speaker*
>From a background in differential geometry, Dominic started work in NLP in
2001, developing vector space models for language representation and
reasoning back when this was still an esoteric and obscure avenue of
research. He’s best known in this field for the book Geometry and Meaning,
the use of quantum logic to represent search queries and word meanings, and
the SemanticVectors package, which has been building word embedding models
since 2007 and is freely available on GitHub for anyone to play with. He’s
worked on NLP, machine learning, information extraction, and transportation
logistics at Google and Microsoft, before joining Grab in 2016, hoping to
contribute in some of the world’s most exciting and challenging places
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