An FIU/UIUC Delta Force production
One of the team members - Anil Jason - was doing his senior thesis related to natural language processing for Fall 2016. He became exposed to a variety of databases that were commonly used to deduced some form of semantics from strings of text. Coincidentally, midway through his research, he was taught a fun little ice breaker puzzle game called "connection". Simply put, two people say one word on 3, and on 3 again, they say another word. They try to say the same word at the same time, at some point, by merging towards a concept that is in the middle of the two previously stated words. After trying to find the best strategy to beat this game, I soon realized that a great deal of semantics about word sets can be extracted from a game instance.
on 3: 1..2...3.. Player A says "Cars" Player B says "House"
*on 3: 1...2...3... Player A says "Garage" Player B says "RV"
So from that game instance we can decouple Garage as a Car-House, and and RV as a House-Car. We figured if we can create a mobile game out of this word puzzle, we can get users to effectively label data for us, and generate a word graph with coverage that can't be found in any existing lexical database like WordNet. In this way, we are crowd-sourcing Natural Language Processing and word semantics, much like what Recaptcha has done for Machine Learning of old, handwritten text!
How we built it
Challenges we ran into
We had an unfortunate computer malfunction + unauthorized system update that bottle necked a good portion of the development pipeline early on.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We were able to implement a beautiful and quite feature-intensive application in a short amount of time. Unlike a usual hackathon project, we emphasized a lot on scalability and making the project be highly portable from server-to-server, something that Docker provided for us.
What's next for WordMerge
As far as development goes, this app still has a great deal of work before its app store ready. Nonetheless we are determined to fulfill its completion, and perform rigorous analysis on the data collected.
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