What's Up Bot
Our international team of 6 PhD students and faculty advisors has a wide range of experience from both academic and industrial research.
Our team is based in the Interaction Lab at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, which has a long history of building data-driven dialogue systems using machine learning methods. Our vision is to create a humorous and engaging socialbot that keeps users engaged and enjoying conversation on topics of their choice. Our inspiration is the kind of conversation that two new acquaintances might have in a pub -- a mixture of topic-related chat, finding out about each other, and sharing stories.
Ioannis P. - Team leader
During my professional career as a presales engineer, I was engaged in numerous large-scale interdisciplinary projects, where I had to carefully design the technical implementation, weeding out any problems along the way. As a software developer, I was part of large groups as well as working alone, with a wide variety of programming languages and technologies. Both of these positions allowed me to develop invaluable skills like leadership, teamwork, communication and time management. In 2016 I received my MSc degree in Artificial Intelligence with distinction, and am currently working to further my knowledge in HRI during my PhD.
Amanda is a first-year PhD student working on automatic evaluation of NLG systems. She holds a Bachelor's in Computer Science with first class honours from Heriot-Watt University. Her dissertation project focused on generating context-dependent navigation instructions and won first prize at the BSCWomen Lovelace Poster Competition. Following graduation, she worked as a research assistant at the Interaction Lab, working on how best to communicate uncertainty in weather reports. In her free time, Amanda enjoys travelling, reading and home brewing.
I'm a PhD student interested in deep learning for dialogue systems. I hold an Engineer degree (MSc equivalent) with distinction in Computer Science from Moscow State University of Instrument Engineering and Computer Science and Yandex School for Data Analysis. Prior to HWU, I worked as a software engineer at Yandex on projects in computational linguistics such as Russian National Corpus and conversational user interfaces platform. I interned at Microsoft Research (distributed systems research for Bing) and Intel (optimizing C++ compiler). In 2016, I was awarded the James Watt Scholarship for postgraduate study from HWU.
I hold an Electronics Engineering degree from the National University of Rosario in Argentina and a European Master's in Vision and Robotics jointly awarded by three European Universities. Currently, I am pursuing a PhD as part of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Robotics and Autonomous Systems at the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics. My research topic involves the development of a cognitive architecture that would enable robots to learn about their environment and how to perform tasks interactively with a tutor through situated dialogue and physical demonstration. My research interests span artificial intelligence, natural language understanding and robotics.
I got my bachelor's degree in Computer Science in 2012 from Capital University of Economics and Business, Beijing, China. After that, I worked in the Nature Language Processing department of Baidu Inc. for four years before I came to Edinburgh to pursue my MSc and PhD degrees. During the last two year of my Baidu career, I was involved in Baidu voice assistant program, a task based dialogue system; Baidu voice map program, a task based dialogue system preferred to navigation and localisation, and Baidu Duer, a chat based dialogue system.
I'm studying for a PhD degree focusing on Semantic Language grounding using Multimodal Interaction. It aims at building a teachable system that can learn users' word meanings through dialogue. It lies in several fields, including the incremental and attribute-based object recognition, an incremental dialogue management with a word-level adaptive dialogue policy, as well as dynamically semantic grounding. Before my PhD studies, I was awarded a Master's degree with distinction in Software Engineering, and worked on several task-oriented spoken dialogue system projects, including Parlance and SpeechCity. The SpeechCity project won a civic challenge organised by the City of Edinburgh Council in 2014.
Oliver Lemon - Faculty advisor
The faculty advisory team consists of Oliver Lemon and Verena Rieser. Oliver and Verena are both Professors at Heriot-Watt University, Edinburgh, and lead the Interaction Lab and NLP Lab respectively. Their research focuses on machine learning approaches to spoken and multimodal interaction, and socially intelligent Human-Robot Interaction.
Oliver was previously a research fellow at Stanford and Edinburgh Universities, and holds a PhD from Edinburgh. He has led several national and international research projects.
Verena has gained her PhD in 2008 from Saarland University and spent her postdoctoral years at the University of Edinburgh, before she joined Heriot-Watt in 2011. She currently leads a group of 7 full-time researchers (4 PostDocs, 3 PhDs), mainly funded by the EPSRC.