We explore the idea that authoring a piece of text is an act of maximizing one's expected utility. To make this idea concrete, we consider the societally important decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. Extensive past work in quantitative political science provides a framework for empirically modeling the decisions of justices and how they relate to text. We incorporate into such a model texts authored by amici curiae ("friends of the court" separate from the litigants) who seek to weigh in on the decision, then explicitly model their goals in a random utility model. We demonstrate the benefits of this approach in improved vote prediction and the ability to perform counterfactual analysis. Click to Read Paper
We consider the scenario where the parameters of a probabilistic model are expected to vary over time. We construct a novel prior distribution that promotes sparsity and adapts the strength of correlation between parameters at successive timesteps, based on the data. We derive approximate variational inference procedures for learning and prediction with this prior. We test the approach on two tasks: forecasting financial quantities from relevant text, and modeling language contingent on time-varying financial measurements. Click to Read Paper
We present a neural network architecture to predict a point in color space from the sequence of characters in the color's name. Using large scale color--name pairs obtained from an online color design forum, we evaluate our model on a "color Turing test" and find that, given a name, the colors predicted by our model are preferred by annotators to color names created by humans. Our datasets and demo system are available online at colorlab.us. Click to Read Paper