Visiting Scholars 2020/21

Our final blog about the Visitng Scholars is written by René Taboada – from the 2020 Cohort. 

Our journey into the depths of statistics and computational linguistics has been quite something! Coming from a background focused on Translation Studies and Humanities in general, you can imagine how fascinating, yet daunting, exploring so many new topics in these areas has been. However, the team of dedicated professors, who are experts in their areas has been of great help with this. Additionally, we have had the opportunity to have classes with many different visiting scholars, who have all demonstrated their expertise in their fields and have brought a great deal of variety with their different takes and backgrounds to the classes. One such professor is Iacer Calixto.

When I first learned we would be studying Neural Networks and language models in our module of Machine Translation, a chill came down my spine. Honestly. However, now I know we could not have asked for a better person to introduce us to this. Dr Calixto is an expert in computational models of human language, and he is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Center for Data Science in New York University and in the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation in the University of Amsterdam, so you can imagine just how knowledgeable he is in the area. However, what we enjoyed the most about his classes was how they were delivered. Dr Calixto has a great way with words and with the pacing of his explanations, not to mention his open and relaxed attitude was a great way to make us learn as much as possible.

Not only this, but Dr Calixto worked very closely with Dr Frédéric Blain and Dr Burcu Can, two consummate professionals and leaders of their respective modules (Machine Translation and Machine Learning, wow!) to hold practical sessions of the information we had been learning during the semester. Though challenging, it was good to try our hands at some of these implementations and get to play with the codes just to see they are actually achievable. That was an intense week, but in the end, we could feel an honest sense of reward. I know we have a long way to go, but it professors like them that truly inspire you to push forward.
Profile picure of Rene Taboada
René Taboada
2020 Cohort