University of Southern California

CSCI 544 — Applied Natural Language Processing

Spring 2017

Latest Announcements

Time and location Monday 4:00pm–7:50pm, THH 201
Instructor Ron Artstein Monday 2:00pm–3:30pm, PHE 514/516, or by appointment
Teaching Assistants Justin Garten Wednesday 12:00pm–2:00pm, SAL computer lab
Ramesh Manuvinakurike Monday 10:00am–11:00am, SAL computer lab
Siddharth Jain Wednesday 8:30am–10:30am, SAL computer lab

There will be no office hours on January 16 (Martin Luther King’s Birthday), February 20 (Presidents’ Day), or March 12–19 (Spring Recess). There will also be no office hours on April 10 because code demonstrations are being held that day.

Administrative Matters

Registration and D-Clearance
Please consult the page on D-clearance and waiting list (Updated January 13)
If you’ve taken the course before and wish to be considered as a grader, please apply through the Computer Science Department. Graders are usually selected in the first few weeks of the semester.
Students who are absent from class for any reason must make up the materials themselves, and must submit their assignments on time. The final exam will be administered according to the Final Exam Schedule. University regulations do not allow a student to omit a final examination, or take it in advance of its scheduled time.
Academic integrity
Please read my Personal note on academic integrity.


This course covers both fundamental and cutting-edge topics in Natural Language Processing (NLP) and provides students with hands-on experience in NLP applications.

This graduate course is intended for:

Recommended preparation: Proficiency in programming, algorithms and data structures, basic knowledge of linear algebra and machine learning.

Related Courses

This course is part of USC’s curriculum in natural language processing. There is a sister course, CSCI 662 Advanced Natural Language Processing, offered in the Fall semester, which covers complementary (and advanced) material and is intended for PhD students (or students who want to continue to a PhD program).

Coursework and Grading

Grading scale

The following scale is used for determining final grades (note that A is the highest grade given by USC).

Grade challenges

Late Policy


Please use the class discussion boards on Piazza for questions and issues regarding homework assignments and the course in general. This way, the entire class can participate and see the questions and answers. Email should be reserved for communication of a personal nature. If we receive questions by email where the response could be helpful for the class, we may ask you to repost the question on the discussion boards.



Note: The weeks of January 16 and February 20 are instructional weeks. Class will not be held on these days because they are university holidays, but work will be assigned for the week and is due at the appropriate time.

Topics listed in the schedule are tentative and subject to change.

Statement on Academic Conduct and Support Systems

Academic Conduct
Plagiarism – presenting someone else’s ideas as your own, either verbatim or recast in your own words – is a serious academic offense with serious consequences. Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of plagiarism in SCampus in Part B, Section 11, “Behavior Violating University Standards” Other forms of academic dishonesty are equally unacceptable. See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific misconduct,

Discrimination, sexual assault, intimate partner violence, stalking, and harassment are prohibited by the university. You are encouraged to report all incidents to the Office of Equity and Diversity/Title IX Office and/or to the Department of Public Safety This is important for the health and safety of the whole USC community. Faculty and staff must report any information regarding an incident to the Title IX Coordinator who will provide outreach and information to the affected party. The sexual assault resource center webpage fully describes reporting options. Relationship and Sexual Violence Services provides 24/7 confidential support.

Support Systems
A number of USC’s schools provide support for students who need help with scholarly writing. Check with your advisor or program staff to find out more. Students whose primary language is not English should check with the American Language Institute, which sponsors courses and workshops specifically for international graduate students. The Office of Disability Services and Programs provides certification for students with disabilities and helps arrange the relevant accommodations. If an officially declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible, USC Emergency Information will provide safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued by means of Blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technology.

USC Viterbi Honor Code

The Code was developed by Viterbi students, and its text is as follows:

Engineering enables and empowers our ambitions and is integral to our identities. In the Viterbi community, accountability is reflected in all our endeavors.

These are the pillars we stand upon as we address the challenges of society and enrich lives.

Academic Integrity Violations

All coding and writing must be done individually (unless instructed otherwise), and not copied from other students. Copying or plagiarism is grounds for failure of an assignment, or in serious cases failure of the course.

Use of the internet or other outside resources to find solutions to homework problems is considered cheating.

Please read my Personal note on academic integrity.