MS Computer Science & Information Systems

Person holding iPad

Advanced Study: Natural Language Processing (NLP)

As part of the degree requirements, students complete a research project or theses in an area of interest to them. This enhances their expertise in an area.

Natural Language Processing (NLP) is the study of using computers to process, understand, and communicate in spoken, written, or published human language. Combining computer science, artificial intelligence, machine learning and linguistics, NLP covers a broad range of language processing, including data mining, natural language generation, understanding, and translation, question answering, parsing, information retrieval and extraction, as well as, speech recognition and text-to-speech [1][2].

The research on Natural Language Processing at UNCW centers on the question of how computers can process the natural languages (like English) that humans use. His interests span the entire range of topics within NLP with a focus on spoken dialogue systems, text classification, affective computing, and interactive virtual humans.

Research and Study with Expert Faculty

There are many fields within NLP that our faculty research. Students in the MS CSIS program have the freedom to choose their focus research area for their capstone and the professors and industry professionals who have the expertise to guide and support students through their project. Several research topics in this area include: Spoken Dialogue Systems, Text Classification, Affective Computing, and Virtual Humans.

  • Virtual Humans - In an AVAtalk-enabled application, users carry on a spoken conversation with a simulated person (an avatar) and see and hear realistic responses from the avatar.
    • Guinn, C. and R. Hubal (2004). An Evaluation of Virtual Human Technology in Informational Kiosks, Proceedings of International Conference on Multimodal Interfaces (ICMI ’04), State College, PA. 
    • Hubal, R., Guinn, C., Sparrow, D., Studer, E., Day, R. and W. Visscher, (2004) A Synthetic Character Application for Informed Consent, In Dialogue Systems for Health Communication: Papers from the 2004 Fall Symposium, ed. Timothy Bickmore, 58-63. Technical Report FS-04-04. 
    • Guinn, C., Hubal, R., Frank, G., Schwetzke, H., Zimmer, J. Backus, S., Deterding, R., Link, M., Armsby, P., Caspar, R., Flicker, L., Visscher, W., Meehan, A., and H. Zelon (2004). Usability and Acceptability Studies of Conversational Virtual Human Technology, 5th SIGdial Workshop on Discourse and Dialogue, Boston, MA. Hubal, R., Kizakevich, P, Guinn, C., Merino, K, and S. West (2000).
    • The Virtual Standardized Patient–Simulated Patient-Practitioner Dialogue for Patient Interview Training. In J.D. Westwood, H.M. Hoffman, G.T. Mogel, R.A. Robb, & D. Stredney (Eds.), Envisioning Healing: Interactive Technology and the Patient-Practitioner Dialogue (Studies in Health Technology & Informatics, v. 70). IOS Press: Amsterdam, 70:133-138.

Student Capstone Projects Related to Natual Language Processing

Students get the opportunity to pursue individual projects in the form of a Capstone. The Capstone is completed with the guidance, expertise, and support of faculty, usually over the course of a year. In many cases, industry professionals participate on the committee, or the Capstone project solves a real-world problem.


  1. Stackpole, B. (2011) Your next job: Mobile app developer?
  2. Deatsch, K. (2011) Mobile shoppers prefer m-commerce sites over apps, study finds.