In high school, I took classes in German, Spanish, and Latin, and dabbled in Greek and Russian on my own. Interest in Tolkien and constructed languages led me to linguistics.

As an undergraduate, I studied classics and linguistics at Indiana University, completing the B.A. in 1983. I majored in Greek, and also took classes in Latin, German, French, and Hebrew. Our field methods course was on Soninke (a Mande language), and I got research funding to keep working with the consultant on my own during the summer [1]. My senior thesis was on comparative mythology.

I received my doctorate in linguistics from MIT in 1987. My dissertation [6] proposed the "DP-hypothesis," which treats functional elements uniformly as syntactic heads.

Bellcore (1987-1993)

As a student, I also began working on parsing [3,4,7], which led first to a summer internship, and then to a full-time position at Bell Communications Research (Bellcore). I was interested in emulating human parsing, and my approach was to factor parse trees into "chunks and dependencies." A branch of that work was the connection between syntactic structure and prosody.

At Bellcore, I began studying stochastic models. I had the good fortune to collaborate with Kevin Mark and Michael Miller one summer [22]. My contributions at the time were entirely linguistic rather than mathematical, but I did absorb the idea of random fields from them.

Tübingen, Germany (1993-1997)

At Tübingen, my work on chunk parsing culminated in the parser called Cass. Its major advantage was speed: in contrast to standard chart parsers, that ran at 1-10 words per second, Cass processed 10,000 words per second, allowing one to parse large corpora rapidly. What was missing in Cass was the dependencies part of "chunks and dependencies," and I began working on induction methods to acquire them, using Cass itself to bootstrap them from corpora, in collaboration with Mats Rooth and Marc Light.

I also spent time studying random fields and used them to formulate a probabilistic version of attribute-value grammars.

AT&T Laboratories (1997-2002)

I continued working on bootstrapping at AT&T Labs. I became especially interested in semisupervised learning and boosting. I also revived my earlier work on prosody.

My main projects, though, involved building systems:

University of Michigan (since 2002)

Since coming to the University of Michigan, my major projects have been: