Research

My work focuses on the problem of grounded language acquisition: extracting semantically meaningful representations of human language by mapping those representations to the noisy, unpredictable physical world in which robots operate. I combine robotics, natural language processing, and machine learning to build systems that non-specialists can instruct, control, and interact with intuitively and naturally. More specifically, I work on combining probabilistic, grammar-based natural language processing with machine learning to transform human communication into a formal language that a robot can understand.

My group in the Interactive Robotics and Language lab studies how robots can use this kind of language learning to learn to follow instructions or learn about the world. This not only makes robots more useful, but also demonstrates the power of combining robotics with natural language processing. Our work overlaps with the field of HRI, or human-robot interaction.

About Me

I joined the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering department at UMBC as an assistant professor in autumn of 2014, where I founded the Interactive Robotics and Language lab. I obtained my Ph.D. at the University of Washington in Seattle, where was co-advised by Dieter Fox and Luke Zettlemoyer.

Teaching

I primarily teach courses on artificial intelligence, robotics, advanced robotics, advanced AI, human-robot interaction, and ethics in computing. Interested EE, ECE and ME students (and other students, when appropriate) are welcome to contact me to see if a course is appropriate. Many classes do require pretty solid programming skills, often in Python.

Potential students: If you are curious about working with us, check out the IRAL lab web page to get some background on the kind of work we do and then take a look at my prospective students page (which has a link to set up a meeting with me). I would encourage you to take a look at some of the papers and be ready to talk about what you find interesting about our area specifically, as well as research in general.

TL;DR:

Videos of Our Work

Planning Two-Handed Grasps
Playing Chess
Learning how People Communicate