language processing

CS Table 3/7: Can computers write poetry?

Systems for generating poetry and other writing use a variety of techniques to produce text from a combination of structural rules and examples. Some results are quite compelling, while others are less impressive. Even in the best cases, we could reasonably ask: Did the computer actually write this? Is it really a poem?

Our reading for this topic is an academic paper about a sonnet generator. This program uses a combination of classic language models from natural language processing (NLP), an interesting model of rhyme and slant-rhyme, and finite state machines that control poem structure. Generating Topical Poetry. Marjan Ghazvininejad, Xing Shi, Yejin Choi, and Kevin Knight. In Proceedings of the 2016 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing.

In addition to the reading, there are three example text generators you should try out before Tuesday. These vary *significantly* in their level of sophistication. Play with them, and see if you can figure out how they work:

Taking a look at the leaderboard at BotPoet is highly recommended. You can find the most human-like computer-generated poems, but also the most computer-like computer-generated poems, most human-like human-written poems, and most computer-like human-written poems.

Computer science table (CS Table) is a weekly meeting of Grinnell College community members (students, faculty, staff, etc.) interested in discussing topics related to computing and computer science. CS Table meets Tuesdays from 12:00-1:00pm in JRC 224B. Contact the CS faculty for the weekly reading. Students on meal plans, faculty, and staff are expected to cover the cost of their meals. Visitors to the College and students not on meal plans can charge their meals to the department.

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