402 Seeley Mudd Building
PO Box: AC# 2239
John E. Rager
Professor of Computer Science.; Chair of Computer Science
Departmental affiliation: Computer ScienceAmherst College
Courses in Spring 2009
September 2001 A.M. (hon.) Amherst College
August 1987 Ph.D., Computer Science, Northwestern University
June 1978 S.M., Mathematics, University of Chicago
June 1977 S.B., Mathematics, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
I am a specialist in Artificial Intelligence and my work has always been focused on algorithms for processing human languages. My dissertation was in the field of symbolic natural language processing and subsequent to that my research shifted to (among other things) natural language processing using machine learning.
I have also worked on applying Artificial Intelligence to teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages. This work was motivated by the difficulties face by English teachers in Moldova, where I was a Fulbright Scholar during the 2003-04 academic year.
My teaching has often touched on language. For example, I have taught a seminar for first-year students called “Natural and Unnatural Languages.” The material in that course included “traditional” natural language processing as done in artificial intelligence, but also a discussion of rhetorical devices in Shakespeare, a reading of parts of Finnegan’s Wake and a discussion of language evolution.
I also teach Computer Graphics, Programming Languages and all our introductory courses.
I have recently become interested in digital humanities and I spent part of a recent sabbatical leave working at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
In the spring of 2015, I taught a new course on Digital Text Analysis. We discussed the computer science behind algorithms (e.g. topic modeling, Naive Bayes classification) and we read papers that apply these techniques in digital humanities. The course included both Computer Science and Humanities students, who worked together in groups on projects.
Awards and Honors
June 2004: Awarded the medal of the Academy for Economic Studies in Moldova
September 2003–June 2004: Fulbright Scholar in the Republic of Moldova
Scholarly and Professional Activities
September 2003–June 2004: Professor Universitar, Academia de Studii Economice din Moldova. Department of Cybernetics and Economic Informatics. Informal adjunct faculty member to present
December 2009: General Co-Chair, CSAA09: Computer Science from Algorithms to Applications, Cairo, Egypt
With Daniela Cazacu, “Exploring a Problem in Sentence Generation.” Presented at CSAA09 (Computer Science from Algorithms to Applications), Cairo, December 2009.
With Ilie Costas and Ion Bolun, “The Development of e-Government in the Republic of Moldova”. The Computer Science Journal of Moldova 16(3): 377-408 (2008)
With Daniela Cazacu, "Automatic Generation of Exercises for Teaching English As a Foreign Language" in the conference proceedings of an "International Conference of the Association of Teachers of Foreign Languages "Language Development and Teaching." May 2004.
"Computerized Elections And The Moldovan Diaspora: Technical Problems Amid Possibilities," Proceedings of an International Conference "Stiinta, Businessul, Societatea: evolutii si intercorelari în conditiile integrarii în spatiul economic european”, Chisinau, Moldova, February 2004. Also available as "Alegeri Computerizat si Diaspora Moldoveneasca: Probleme Tenice intre Posibilitati," translated by Marianne Moraru.