KDnuggets : News : 2003 : n17 : item23 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >


Computer Helps Translate Gap Between 'He Said, She Said'"

Toledo Blade (09/08/03); Woods, Michael

The Winnow computer program developed by researchers at the Illinois Institute of Technology can determine whether anonymous messages are written by men or women with over 80 percent accuracy, and such technology could be used to increase the effectiveness of textbooks, improve crime-solving techniques, or enhance commercial and workplace communications, among other things. Project leader Dr. Shlomo Argamon says the effort differs from other research initiatives into gender-specific communications in that it focuses on textual rather than oral exchanges. Winnow studied more than 600 documents in the British National Corpus, scanning for specific linguistic patterns, or "determiners," culled from analysis of documents known to be written by male or female authors.

Determiners that Winnow relies on to categorize author gender include women's preference for pronouns, such as "I," "you," "she," "her," "their," "myself," "herself," and "yourself" and men's tendency to use pronouns like "it," "this," "that," "these," "those," and "they." The program was able to correctly identify author gender in 73 percent of the scientific documents it analyzed, indicating that sex-related differences are apparent even in highly technical texts. Argamon thinks that revelations about distinctive writing styles between men and women uncovered by Winnow could have a profound effect on education, paving the way for gender-specific textbooks, for example. His team is attempting to refine the method to establish the age, educational level, and ethnicity of anonymous authors, as well as their gender, a breakthrough that could help police identify writers of ransom notes. Meanwhile, Georgetown University linguistics professor Dr. Deborah Tannen believes Argamon's research could help bridge a sexual communications gap in the workplace.

Here is the full story from Toledo Blade.

KDnuggets : News : 2003 : n17 : item23 < PREVIOUS | NEXT >

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