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Dissertation Defense

Hugo Liu:
"Computing Point-of-View: Modeling and Simulating Judgments of Taste"

Tuesday, April 18, 2006, 4:00 PM EST

Stata Center, Room 32-123

Pattie Maes
Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

William J. Mitchell
Professor of Architecture and Media Arts and Sciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Warren Sack
Assistant Professor of Film and Digital Media,
University of California, Santa Cruz

Point-of-view affords individuals the ability to judge and react broadly to people, things, and everyday happenstance; yet it has an ineffable quality that is hard to articulate in words. Drawing from semiotic theories of taste and communication, this thesis presents a computational theory for representing, acquiring, and tinkering with point-of-view.

Liu defines viewpoint as an individual's psychological locations within latent semantic spaces that represent the realms of cultural taste, aesthetic perception, possible attitudes, sense-of-humor, and taste for food. The topologies of these spaces are mined from online cultural corpora, and the individual's locations are inferred through psychoanalytic readings of her self-expressive texts. Once acquired, viewpoint models are brought to life through perspectival artifacts, which allow the exploration of someone else's perspective through interactivity and play.

The thesis illustrates the theory by presenting viewpoint acquisition systems built for five realms. The technique of psychoanalytic reading is described, along with its core enabling technologies, which are common-sense reasoning and textual affect sensing. Finally, six perspectival artifacts were implemented to illuminate a range of promising applications for viewpoint modeling—tools for learning, self-reflection, matchmaking, and deep recommendation.

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