Academy Projects 2015

The following projects have been accepted for the Academy Assistants 2015.

Learning a (programming) language from mistakes

Although making mistakes is usually associated with negative emotions, making mistakes is by no means “evidence of failure to learn”. Actually, making mistakes may enhance the learning process and might even be essential for an effective learning process. This project focusses on learning from mistakes a new language, be it a foreign human natural or a programming one. Although there are many differences between these two types of languages, both are characterised by sets of rules that constrain the use of certain expressions or forms. Not being familiar with all the rules, learners will make mistakes. The projects sets out to explore possibilities to develop an efficient automatic training system to assist students in learning a new (programming) language. The system uses a more refined manner of assessing students’ knowledge and understanding, that extends beyond traditional assessment tools, with the ultimate goal to turn mistakes into positive learning events. Read more…


Natalia Silvis-Cividjian

Monique Lamers

Monique Lamers

Peer and company influence on consumer responses and brand perceptions in company social network sites

This project focuses on an analysis of a large MySQL database that contains the content of interactions on company or brand Facebook pages, collected through the Facebook API. The database is made available by Social Embassy, a leading Dutch social media agency, and contains the profiles of 2 million consumers and their interactions with to 35k brand posts of over 50 brands: 7 million likes and 2.5 million comments. Read more…


Peter Kerkhof


Aart van Halteren

Ethical Implications of Self-Improving Intelligent Robots

There is substantial concern in the general public and even some experts about the perceived threat of artificial intelligence (AI) running amok, improving itself to outstrip human intelligence and negating any possibility of shutting it down. This proposal sets out a research project to investigate and test the safety and controllability of such ‘smart’ AI, in particular in intelligent robots.
This project aims to investigate the technical possibilities and philosophical implications of ensuring that general AI is safe and controllable. Read more…


Jacqueline Heinerman


Scott Robbins

Identifying implicit stereotypical view in natural language through automatic linguistic analyses

Stereotypical views about social groups (e.g., Muslims, Germans, women, immigrants) play a pervasive role in how we perceive and interact with people. Stereotypes emerge from the way we communicate about categorized people and their behavior both privately and in the media. It is valuable to learn about the exact (linguistic) means through which such (negative) stereotypical views become shared within communities.
The present project aims to merge complementary approaches, and thereby develop a methodology for using NLP1 to automatically identify content and strength of stereotypes about specific groups shared within communities. Read more…


Camiel Beukeboom


Antske Fokkens

Modelling Perspectives in Philosophy: A Computational Experiment on Quine’s Word & Object

In Modelling Perspectives a MA student in philosophy and a MA student in computational linguistics take the first steps toward developing a sound method to extract and interpret information about perspectives as expressed in philosophical texts in a computational way. We investigate appropriate calibration of an already existing model combining sentiment/opinion mining and event factuality (Van Son et al. 2014) for application to philosophical texts. We focus on an English corpus including one of the most influential philosophical books of the 20th century, Word & Object (1960) by W. V. O. Quine. Read more…


Arianna Betti


Piek Vossen

Cascades and Avalanches in Twitter Communication Networks

The project Cascades and Avalanches in Twitter Communication Networks focuses on the structure and content of communication networks on Twitter, with the aim of identifying mechanisms that lead to sudden information cascades and social avalanches (hypes). We approach hypes as mass synchronization of attention, for example, when specific topics (as identified by shared hashtags) hype on Twitter. In particular, we will test models of preference synchronization in social networks with Twitter data. We will observe the dynamics of the changing communication networks via cooccurring hashtags, targeted users and changing content on Twitter. Read more…


Lina Hellsten


Ines Lindner

Building an Intelligent System to Reduce Impulsive Snacking by Providing Tailored and Contextualised Feedback

To control the “obesity epidemic”, health messages promote intentions to reduce unhealthy snacking. While general messages often fail to influence intentions, tailoring messages to the needs of individuals can increase healthy intentions1. Unfortunately, our “toxic environment” full of calorically-dense foods confronts people with temptations, making them forget their healthy intentions. Consequently, people often act on impulse and make unhealthy snack choices. This project therefore investigates whether an intelligent system can reduce unhealthy snacking by providing nudges/notifications via a mobile phone app tailored towards the person’s needs, time of the day and his/ her physical environment (location). Read more…


Michel Klein


Guido van Koningsbruggen

Treatment of information security tools under the Wassenaar Arrangement

This proposal seeks to evaluate the treatment of information security research tooling under the Wassenaar Arrangement. As a result of developments outlined below, many tools that the information security research community commonly produces and uses, and that are readily distributed amongst the members of this community are now, or will soon be, in scope of the export control regime maintained as a result of the Wassenaar Arrangement. Not surprisingly, the Arrangement has led to much concern among hackers, security experts and scientists alike. Read more…


Arno Lodder


Herbert Bos

Playing it by ear: serious gaming for better hearing

To improve the hearing quality of hearing impaired individuals, regular training is important. Unfortunately, patients (especially children) are quickly bored by traditional training programs. Additionally, their social and communicative skills, including cognitive control of emotion and motivation, are often less developed. The aim of this project is to explore the potential benefit of gamification to make (computer-based) training applications for hearing impaired children more appealing, and therefore more effective. Mechanisms that will be investigated include fantasy (e.g., using role play), rewards (e.g., the possibility to obtain points or items), and challenge (e.g., controlling the difficulty level).

 Monique Lamers

Monique Lamers


Tibor Bosse

Consumer Behaviour in Digital News Consumption

While the consumption of online news is increasing and analytical tools allow website owners to know which sections of their websites are being visited, it is unknown which topics on all Dutch news websites are being visited during the whole day. Do news users, e.g., read news about soccer in the morning at, articles about politics at during lunch break and gossip at in the evening?


Martijn Kleppe


Sandjai Bhulai

Expert versus public understanding of science

The central aim of this research project is to investigate expert versus lay understanding of scientific concepts as a window onto broader questions in the philosophy of science: Are such differences between experts and laypeople a matter of different degrees of understanding of the relevant concepts, or is the fundamental difference about different kinds of understanding? Answers to these questions can have important implications for science education in schools, popular media, and the formation of science policy for public consumption..


Henk W. de Regt


Alan Cienki