The Emory University team, seen here, and its Emora socialbot are the winners of the 2020 Alexa Prize.
The Emory University team and its Emora socialbot are the winners of the 2020 Alexa Prize. Editor's Note: This photo was taken in October 2019, prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. Thus, team members aren't wearing masks.

Emora (2019)

We expect our socialbot, Emora, to be your companion who will care about you, learn from you, share thoughts and feelings with you, and most importantly, always be there for you.

Team Emora is a diverse group of graduate and undergraduate students from the NLP and IR labs at Emory University who strive to bring the true meaning of “socialbot"" to conversational AI.

We expect our socialbot, Emora, to be your companion who will care about you, learn from you, share thoughts and feelings with you, and most importantly, always be there for you. Emora is a self-evolving socialbot whose best intention is to adjust herself for you to have more satisfying conversations so you will feel the contentment of talking to your close friend, rather than an information desk.

Sarah F. - Team leader

Sarah is a second-year Ph.D. student in Computer Science in the Intelligent Information Access Lab at Emory University. Her research interests are in natural language processing, especially in the context of conversational systems, information retrieval, and information extraction. During her first year at Emory, Sarah worked on improving the capabilities of conversational search systems through the incorporation of engagement detection. Before coming to Emory, her research efforts focused on developing automated dialogue systems and investigating the sharing of personal information between humans in chat-oriented dialogues.

Harshita S.

Harshita is a third-year computer science Ph.D. student at Emory University, where he is part of the Information Retrieval lab. Harshita's research interests include conversational search, personalized recommender systems, and knowledge graphs.

James F.

James is a first year Ph.D. student and is passionate about natural language processing and, more broadly, artificial intelligence as a whole. James has three years of experience in task-oriented human-robot dialogue research, and hopes to further explore techniques for human-computer dialogue in more open-domain, chat oriented dialogues. His current research also includes a project focusing on information extraction from unstructured text in the news domain.

Zihao W.

Zihao is a thrid year Ph.D student in Computer Science at Emory University. His research interests lie in Conversational AI, especially in response ranking and selection in dialogue systems. Zihao participated in the Alexa Prize competition in 2017 and 2018 which were great experiences for him. Zihao has had internships in IBM Research China and Uber AI, in which he worked on different scopes of interesting projects.

Ali A.

Ali is a third year Ph.D. student in Computer Science and obtained their Master's degree in Artificial Intelligence. Ali was a team member in the 2017 and 2018 Alexa Prize competition, and the team achieved 5th and 4th in the final ranking in 2017 and 2018, respectively. Ali mainly worked on the design of the multi-level intent and topic classifier, the proactive recommendation mechanism, and several other information retrieval components such as News and Movies. Furthermore, Ali has been working on procedural question-answering by experimenting with different information retrieval, and deep learning methods.

Jason C.

Jason is a graduate student at Emory University specializing in open-domain spoken conversational systems, mainly in ML & NLU & IR aspects. He is also a returning member from the 2017 & 2018 Alexa Prize. Jason's research focus will be on dialogue management that integrates conversational satisfaction prediction, neural response generation, failure detection & recovery and phonetic language representations. With these signals, Jason looks forward to improving the team's existing system to maintain a more natural conversational flow in a more intelligent way.

Sonny X.

Sonny is a rising junior student at Emory University and majoring in Computer Science and Applied Math. Sonny was a team member in the 2018 ACM International Collegiate Programming Contest that won 1st Place out of 82 teams in the Southeast Region Division II. Sonny is also interested in software development and his team won 2nd Place overall, out of 44 teams, and 1st Place in Social Innovation bracket in 2018 at HackATL, by designing the website Asaga.

Bill Q.

Bill is a rising senior at Emory University, majoring in computer science and applied mathematics. He is currently an Emory NLP lab member. Bill has also worked for several semesters in "ELITE" lab where he conducted research on computer science education. Bill is interested in machine learning. He really enjoyed hisgraduate-level machine learning course and plans to pursue a Ph.D. degree in machine learning.

Han H.

Androids Do Dream of Electric Sheep

Liyan X.

Liyan is a Ph.D. student at Emory University and likes cats!

Zihan W.

Zihan is a rising senior majoring in CS. She has been in multiple Hackathons and competitions and created several interesting apps, but the Alexa Prize is the most challenging but interesting one. Zihan enjoys coding and solving problems but her favorite thing to do is still eating hot-pot with friends.

Xiangjue D.

Xiangjue is a master's student majoring in computer science at Emory University since August 2019. Her previous research and project experience were in information retrieval, computer vision, and deep learning area. She completed several projects, like Human Activity Detection, Forum Post Tagging, New Features Development for Role-based Healthcare Web Application iTrust and CUDA Parallel Programming for Neural-Network Framework MXNet. Now she is interested in conversational AI and trying to do relevant research.

Jiaying L.

Jiaying is a first year Computer Science Ph.D. student at Emory and a member of Emory NLP Lab. His research interest lies in NLP, especially understanding human generated text with the help of knowledge and reasoning. Before joining Emory, Jiaying has conducted research in vision and language field. He also has two years of industrial experience at Baidu. He obtained his master and bachelor degrees from BUPT, China.

Sergey V.

Sergey recieved his bachelor’s degree in Mathematics from the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Russia. Currently he is a 2nd year Ph.D. student. Sergey worked on the Alexa Prize with the Emory team last year.

Jinho Choi - Faculty advisor

Jinho Choi is an assistant professor of Computer Science at Emory University, where he leads the NLP research laboratory. Dr. Choi has introduced many state-of-the-art models for core NLP tasks and also presented several open-source NLP frameworks including ClearNLP, NLP4J, and ELIT. He has started a novel machine comprehension project called “Character Mining” that aims to interpret both implicit and explicit contexts in multiparty conversations. Dr. Choi has been active in the NLP community and area chairs for several top conferences including ACL, NAACL, and EMNLP.

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