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Grant number like: HAA-277275-21

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Cornell University (Ithaca, NY 14853-2801)
David Mimno (Project Director: June 2020 to present)
Melanie Walsh (Co Project Director: December 2020 to present)
BERT for Humanists: Anticipating the Reception of Contemporary NLP in Digital Humanities

The development of an open-source toolkit and workshop series that will begin to address these fundamental barriers to the adoption of BERT (Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers) by humanities scholars interested in large-scale text analysis.

We propose to study the potential impact of a new paradigm in natural language processing for humanities research. Contextual embedding methods like BERT have become central to contemporary NLP by offering a high-level numeric representation of individual word tokens in their context. We expect that humanists will start to be increasingly interested in using BERT-like methods, but based on our experience with similar waves in topic modeling and word embeddings there is a lot that we don’t yet know. The applications, tools, protocols, and mental models that humanists will find compelling are almost certainly different from those familiar or expected by NLP researcher. We will bring together researchers with experience at the intersection of NLP and humanities to identify both potential use cases as well as potential obstacles. Using these insights we will develop initial case studies, tools, and training materials.

Project fields:
Interdisciplinary Studies, General

Digital Humanities Advancement Grants

Digital Humanities

$46,074 (approved)
$39,998 (awarded)

Grant period:
1/1/2021 – 12/31/2021