Malihe Alikhani, a 3rd year Ph.D. student in the Department of Computer Science, advised by Prof. Matthew Stone, was one of the students that received the Fellowship for Excellence in Computation and Data Science from RDI2. The fellowship appointment is for one year and comes with $30,000 towards GA support, with potential for renewal. This award supported up to three PhD students across the university working on interdisciplinary computational research projects.
Malihe's research is in the area of Computational Linguistics. She received her MSc in Mathematics from the University of Hawaii—Manoa and her BSc from Iran University of Science and Technology. In particular, the research summary of her work that will be supported by the fellowship is the following:
A wide range of communicative artifacts involves coordinated presentations of visual and linguistic information. Documents include images and diagrams and face-to-face conversations are accompanied by iconic gestures. Although humans interpret such multimodal forms of communication effortlessly, this is a very difficult task for computers. The difficulty is partly due to our limited scientific knowledge of the structure and organization of these presentations. Systems that have the ability to interpret such presentations can allow computers to organize vast amount of information and to communicate with the people who want to access it. The focus of Malihe's dissertation is to carry out a series of data-driven modeling experiments to gain insight into how people learn generalizable knowledge of communication and how computer systems can do the same.