Computation+Language at UMass and the Five Colleges

This is a list of faculty and courses in the fields of natural language processing, computational linguistics, and information retrieval in the Five Colleges area, specifically at the University of Massachusetts Amherst (UMass) and Mount Holyoke College (MHC).

These fields study the intersection of computation and human language. Natural language processing (NLP) studies how computers can automatically acquire, understand, and generate human language. The closely related field of computational linguistics seeks to model human language capabilities with computational models, and provide computational tools for linguistic investigation. Information retrieval focuses on computational systems, such as search engines, that find and summarize textual information in response to a user's need.

We have a broad array of faculty, course offerings, research labs, and seminars in these fields, across three different departments. (This page does not attempt to list all postdocs and graduate students -- there are too many! See links for more details.)


Name and webpage Department PhD Interests
James Allan UMass CS (PhD 1995, CS, Cornell) Information retrieval.
Lisa Ballesteros MHC CS (PhD 2001, CS, UMass) Information retrieval.
Rajesh Bhatt UMass Linguistics (PhD 1999, Linguistics, Penn) Syntax, semantics.
Bruce Croft UMass CS (PhD 1979, CS, Cambridge) Information retrieval.
Brian Dillon UMass Linguistics (PhD 2011, Linguistics, Maryland) Psycholinguistics, cognitive science.
Mohit Iyyer UMass CS (PhD 2017, CS, Maryland) Starting in Fall 2018. Natural language processing, deep learning, creative language.
Gaja Jarosz UMass Linguistics (PhD 2006, Cognitive Science, JHU) Phonology, cognitive science, machine & human learning.
Justin Gross UMass Political Science (PhD 2010, Statistics and Public Policy, CMU) Political ideology in language.
Andrew McCallum UMass CS (PhD 1995, CS, Rochester) Machine learning, natural language processing.
Brendan O'Connor UMass CS (PhD 2014, CS, CMU) Natural language processing, computational social science.
Joe Pater UMass Linguistics (PhD 1997, Linguistics, McGill) Models of phonological learning, cognitive science
Heather Pon-Barry MHC CS (PhD 2013, CS, Harvard) Speech, human-computer interaction.
Hanna Wallach MSR-NYC
(Affiliate, UMass CS)
(PhD 2008, Physics, Cambridge) Machine learning, computational social science.
Hong Yu UMass Medical School
(Affiliate, UMass CS)
(PhD 2002, Biomedical Informatics, Columbia) Biomedical natural language processing.
Kristine Yu UMass Linguistics (PhD 2011, Linguistics, UCLA) Speech, prosody.


This information may not be up to date! Please see course webpages, listings, and contact instructors for the most accurate information. Also note that many of these courses welcome students from other departments!

Students (typically undergraduates) can take courses at other campuses through Five College cross-registration.
Course Name Current or recent instructors Intended audience and other notes
UMass CS 446 Search Engines Bruce Croft, James Allan Upper-level CS undergraduates.
UMass CS 585 Introduction to Natural Language Processing Mohit Iyyer, Brendan O'Connor, Andrew McCallum Upper-level CS undergraduates and masters students; or other students with experience at the level of Ling 492B.
UMass CS 646 Information Retrieval James Allan Graduate-level CS students.
UMass CS 685 Advanced Topics in Natural Language Processing Brendan O'Connor, Mohit Iyyer CS graduate students with machine learning background. This course incorporates content from 690D, Deep Learning for NLP, and has also been known as 690N.
UMass Ling 509 Introduction to Computational Linguistics Rajesh Bhatt Linguistics undergraduates, or other students with little programming background. Formerly known as Ling 409.
UMass Ling 492B Computational Linguistics: Use and Meaning Brian Dillon Linguistics undergraduates who have computational experience at the level of Ling 409.
See: Spring 2016 syllabus
UMass Ling 592B Speech Processing Kristine Yu Linguistics undergraduates (with permission); graduate-level linguistics, CS, engineering students.
UMass Ling 692C Computational Cognitive Modeling Gaja Jarosz Graduate students in linguistics, psychology, and computer science; advanced undergraduates and MA students with appropriate background.
See: preliminary information.
UMass Ling 797C Computational Phonology Gaja Jarosz Graduate students in linguistics.
MHC CS 336 Intelligent Information Retrieval Lisa Ballesteros Upper-level CS undergraduates.
MHC CS 341 Natural Language Processing Heather Pon-Barry Upper-level CS undergraduates. Has emphasis on speech recognition.

Mailing list

The UMass-NLP google group mailing list coordinates the NLP Reading Group. Membership is restricted to the UMass community (e.g. faculty and students). CS students may join if they are currently doing faculty-advised research. Please email with any questions.

Other related resources

Page last updated: April 2018 by Brendan.