Friday, May 28, 2010

A case of Big Iron-ic

Scientists devise algorithm to detect sarcasm
A computer algorithm capable of identifying sarcasm in written text has 
been developed by Israeli researchers. The novel formula could pave the 
way for more sophisticated communication between humans and computers. 

Devised by computer scientists at The Hebrew University in Jerusalem, 
the algorithm has been programmed to recognise sarcasm in lengthy texts 
by analysing patterns of phrases and punctuation often used to indicate 
irony. In tests on 66,000 product reviews posted on the Amazon shopping 
website, the algorithm had an impressive 77 per cent success rate in 
picking out sarcastic comments - arguably higher than some humans. 

The researchers 'trained' the algorithm to recognise sarcasm by teaching 
it nearly 5,500 sentences from Amazon reviews that volunteers had marked 
as either sarcastic or non-sarcastic. From this list of phrases, the 
algorithm was taught to recognise patterns of words commonly used by 
writers to show that they do not mean to be taken literally. 

The algorithm was tested on tens of thousands of other Amazon reviews 
which had also been tagged for sarcasm, or otherwise, by human readers. 
It produced accurate answers in 77% of cases.

Full story: Daily Telegraph
Published: May 19, 2010

Reposted from UNU-Merit newsletter...

UNU-MERIT is a joint research and training centre of United Nations University (UNU) andMaastricht University, The Netherlands.

The joint Institute was created on 1 January 2006 following the integration of the former UNU-Institute for New Technologies (INTECH) in Maastricht , and the Maastricht Economic Research Institute on Innovation and Technology, MERIT, at Maastricht University .


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UNU-MERIT provides insights into the social, political and economic factors that drive technological change and innovation. The Centre's research and training programmes address a broad range of policy questions relating to the national and international governance of science, technology and innovation, with a particular focus on the creation, diffusion and access to knowledge.






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