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spring 2018 Course Announcements

Shawn Curley IDSc 8721: Behavioral Decision Theory
Instructor: Shawn Curley
Tuesday, 10:00AM - 12:30PM
Room: CSOM (tbd)

How do we go about making choices and the judgments on which they are based? A large portion of the covered research can be conceptualized as arising from origins in normative decision theory, i.e. theory about how decisions should be made. In order to put this theory into practice, several descriptive components must come from the decision makers: their values and preferences, their judgments concerning the possible outcomes that might arise, and the goals/factors/actions that comprise the decision structure--the relevant elements for making the decision. Behavioral decision theory is interested in these descriptive components, the cognitive processes by which they arise and affect choice, and biases that can arise.
The course will be primarily in seminar format. We will use our class time to discuss journal articles and chapters on selected topics. We will look at both traditional and current research in the field to understand and integrate some of the major models and methodologies employed in the field of behavioral decision theory. The course covers models and issues of preference, judgment, and uncertainty. As an example, you can view the course schedule from the last time the course was taught (Fall, 2015) linked from my home page: However, the course is updated on a regular basis with each new offering.

Email with any questions.


CSci 8980: Virtual and Augmented Reality for Social Good
Monday and Wednesday 9:45am - 11:00am
Instructor: Victoria Interannte
Tentative location: 530A Bruininks Hall

Virtual and Augmented Reality have tremendous potential as enabling technologies for social good. Already, they are being used to enable fundamental advances in training, education, design, medicine, and other important application areas. For just a few examples: camera-enhanced VR and AR glasses are being developed into valuable assistive technology devices for people with visual or auditory deficits; immersive, interactive 360° videos are being used to present highly realistic first-person virtual experiences to promote empathy and awareness; and advances in 3D scanning technologies are enabling ever more effective perspective-taking illusions, wherein people see themselves as being someone else in VR. The goal of this class is to provide students with the opportunity to learn more about these topics through a combination of assigned readings from the current literature, self-directed literature searches and the writing of a literature review, group discussions and individual presentations to the rest of the class, and a semester-long individual or small group project of the student's own design. This class will be offered for variable credit. Students who register for 1 credit will be expected to attend class regularly, do the assigned reading, and participate in class discussions. Students who register for 2 credits will be expected, in addition, to complete a literature review and present their findings to the rest of the class. Students who register for the full 3 credits will also be expected to complete a semester-long term project related to the theme of developing or using VR or AR technology for a purpose related to improving the social good, broadly defined as increasing someone's quality or experience of real life in some small but meaningful way, either directly or indirectly, in either the short or long term.


LING 8210 — Seminar in Syntax: Introduction to Syntactic Processing

Instructor: Dustin Alfonso, Linguistics

Intuitively, we understand sentences in "real-time"— we do not wait until the end of a sentence in order to determine its meaning. Instead, we rapidly coordinate our grammatical knowledge, memory, attention, and prediction systems to build syntactic structure "on-line". In this class, we will examine how exactly this happens, by examining primary literature on the topic. Topics will include: grammatical fidelity in sentence comprehension, "syntax-first" theories of sentence comprehension, sources of processing difficulty, active dependency formation, memory retrieval, and explicit computational/mathematical models of sentence comprehension. We will also survey the methods used to investigate sentence comprehension, including self-paced reading, eye-tracking, and EEG (electroencephalography). Students will also be asked to design and run an experiment, including performing data analysis. There is no pre-requisite for this class, and students with an interest in cognitive psychology, memory, and prediction are encouraged to enroll.


LING 5900 01/8900 01 — Topics in Linguistics: Constraints on Movement

Instructor: Dustin Alfonso, Linguistics

One of the hallmark properties of human language is displacement (or "movement"), or situations in which a word or phrase is interpreted in one position but surfaces in another, (1). Although displacement is permitted from many constructions (2), there are also conditions on displacement, e.g., (3) is unacceptable. (1) Who did you see ___ at the police station? (2) Who did you see Dale with __ at the police station? (3) *Who did you see Dale and __ at the police station? These constraints on movement, often called island constraints, are observed in every reported language, and are relatively uniform in their application. Furthermore, children appear to have mastery over island constraints at a very young age, and adults rapidly and robustly use island constraints in real-time sentence processing. The kinds of questions that we will ask in this class are: Why do island constraints exist? Are they fundamentally constraints on the forms of sentences, or do they follow naturally from the ways that language is used and processed? How do children learn these phenomena, or are they innate? How and when do adults use this knowledge to produce and understand sentences in real time? Which island constraints are "universal", which ones vary, and why? This class presumes no familiarity with formal syntax or semantics. Students may enroll with instructor's permission. I specifically welcome students with an interest in cognitive science, language acquisition, sentence processing, or language and cognition.


Updated December 9, 2017