COMP 786: Natural Language Processing (Fall 2020)

Instructor: Mohit Bansal
Units: 3
Office: FB 246
Lectures: Wed 10:40am-1:10pm ET, Rm FB-008 (now changed to remote due to covid19; zoom link will be emailed to you all)
Office Hours: Wed 1:10pm-2:10pm ET (by appointment) (remote/zoom)
Course Webpage:
Course Email: nlpcomp786unc -at-



This course will be based on the artificial intelligence, machine learning, and linguistics field of natural language processing (NLP, or computational linguistics), to allow building automatic models that can analyze, understand, and generate text. We will cover important traditional topics of NLP such as tagging, parsing, coreference resolution, sentiment analysis, summarization, question-answering, and translation. We will also cover more recent topics of multimodal, grounded, and embodied semantics (i.e., language with vision and speech, for robotics), language generation and dialogue, and interpretable deep learning, etc.

Topics (tentative)


Students not meeting these requirements must receive the explicit permission of the instructor to remain in this course.

Grading (tentative)

Grading will (tentatively) consist of:

All submissions should be emailed to:

Lateness Policy

Students are allowed 3 free late days for assignments over the semester. After that, late assignments will be accepted with a 25\% reduction in value per day late.

Reference Books

Schedule (tentative; slides coming soon)

DateTopic (& slides) Readings Discussion LeadersTodo's (Assignments, Homeworks)
Aug 12Intro to the Course, Language Modeling (N-gram, RNNs, etc.) (slides) SLP3 Chapters 1, 2, 3, 7, 9; SLP2 Chapters 1-4 Mohit -
Aug 19 Word/Sentence Embeddings, Text Classification (slides) SLP3 Chapters 4, 5, 6 Mohit Chapter summary due Aug26 for 8.4.5, 8.5 (Viterbi and MEMMs)
Aug 26 Part-of-Speech Tagging, NER, Sequence Labeling, Coreference Resolution (slides) SLP3 Chapters 8, 9, 10, 22; SLP2 Chapters 5, 6, 21 Mohit Chapter summary due Sep2 for 13.2, 14.2 (CKY algo)
Sep 02 Syntactic Parsing (slides) SLP3 Chapters 12, 13, 14, 15; SLP2 Chapters 12, 13, 14, 15 Mohit Chapter summary due Sep9 for 20.6.1, 20.6.2 (SRL models)
Sep 09 Project Brainstorming+Feedback Mohit Coding HW1 (Word Embedding Training, Visualization, Evaluation) -- due Sep23 midnight
Sep 16 SRL, Semantic Parsing, Compositional Semantics 1 (slides) SLP3 Chapters 16, 17, 20; SLP2 Chapters 18, 19, 20 Mohit Short project description (based on Sep9 feedback) due Sep21
Sep 23 Semantic Parsing 2, Question Answering (slides) SLP3 Chapters 25; SLP2 Chapters 23 Mohit -
Sep 30 Midterm Project Presentations -- All Students Midterm Write-ups Due Oct10
Oct 07 Document Summarization, Machine Translation (slides) SLP3 Chapters 11, 24; SLP2 Chapters 23, 25 Mohit (+guest talk by Ram) Chapter summary due Oct14 for Sec5.2 EM algo for IBM models (Mike Collins' pdf)
Oct 14 Machine Translation 2 (Neural), Dialogue Models (slides) SLP3 Chapters 11, 26; SLP2 Chapters 24, 25 Mohit Coding HW2 (Sequence-to-Label Learning, Entailment Recognition) -- due Oct30 midnight
Oct 21 Language+Vision (slides) -- Mohit + guest talks -
Oct 28 L+V part2; Language+Robotics (slides) -- Mohit -
Nov 04 Ethics+Bias in NLP/ML; How to Write+Review Research Papers (slides) -- Mohit -
Nov 11 Final Project Presentations (last class as per new UNC calendar) -- All Students -
Nov 21 Final Project Write-ups Due -- All Students Project Write-ups Due


The professor reserves the right to make changes to the syllabus, including project due dates. These changes will be announced as early as possible.