In April the third workshop on Predicting and Improving Text Readability for Target Reader Populations was held in Gothenberg Sweden. Lots of interesting work was presented ranging from highlighting the key words in text for dyslexic readers to using genetic algorithms to classify texts as easy or not to read. I presented some of my work using information theoretic measures of sentence processing difficulty to predict eye movements during reading. Hopefully we can use some of this in making the output of the Sassy software easier for people to understand.
Author Archives: Matt Green
The Production of Referring Expressions workshop was held as part of the Cognitive Science Society’s conference this year in Berlin. Several of us from SAsSY were involved, and you can see the poster that Kees and I presented here.
One thing that struck me at the conference was that lots of researchers have recently started using an old way of analysing eye movements again in new ways. When people carry out tasks that are cognitively demanding, their pupils dilate and contract more frequently than usual. We can use this information and plan experiments that measure pupil size to figure out how difficult people find it to understand the output of our software. We will use this to help the software present information to people in more easily comprehensible ways. When our results are in, you’ll be able to read about them here on the blog as well as in scientific papers.
Computer systems that write in English have come a long way in the last 20 years. Now the most advanced computer systems can do things like write summaries of a hospital patient’s progress for the attention of the nurse coming on duty. In this example, until computers took up the burden of writing, the nurses had to spend time writing that they could have spent nursing: soon they will be able to spend all their time on the nursing. When computers write in human languages like English for the attention of people, we would like them to write in a way that is clear, concise, and understandable. The computer scientists who build the programs that do the writing have some say on how the writing is done: however we still do not know how to find out whether people do find the writing clear and intelligible. In my work on sentence processing I use an eye tracking machine to show how people’s eyes move through sentences as they read them. Methods like this are used to find out how sentence processing works, and these methods can tell us if readers find a sentence easy or difficult to read. I hope to adapt eye tracking methods so that they can tell us which of several ways to write a sentence for the best effect when it comes to writing sentences about plans.