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Sandiway Fong


My area of research is computational linguistics. I specialize primarily in research at the intersection of computer science, formal linguistics and cognitive science.


I am originally trained as a computer scientist. I did my undergraduate degree, a B.Sc(Eng) in Computing Science, at Imperial College of Science and Technology, part of the University of London. I was interested in logic programming and (particularly) in artificial intelligence, which precipitated my next step.

Department of Computing, Imperial College

Imperial College, University of London

After completing my undergraduate degree, in 1985, I came to the United States to do graduate work at the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory (then a separate entity from LCS) at the Masschusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Masschusetts. I received a S.M. (Master of Science) degree in 1986. I spent a little time at IBM's T.J. Watson Research Center in Hawthorne on qualitative reasoning for large-scale computer systems. I developed a strong interest in natural language processing and formal linguistics. (My Ph.D minor is in Linguistics.) My Ph.D thesis work was on the implementation of Government-and-Binding (GB) theory, a popular theory in the so-called Principles-and-Parameters framework.



Watson Research Center, IBM

[From 1994 NEC Research Institute, Inc. publicity brochure.]

After completing my Ph.D, in Fall 1991, I joined the recently founded NEC Research Institute in Princeton New Jersey. (I believe it was just a couple of years old when I joined.) This was a small institute initially set up to do fundamental research in the computer and physical sciences, wholly funded by NEC Japan. I formed a small natural language processing group. Later on, the focus of the institute became collaborative applied research with NEC C&C Laboratories (Japan) and eventually it merged to become NEC Laboratories America. I did some proprietary work on machine translation and ended up collaborating on machine translation evaluation for Japanese to English translation. I also did consultant work with researchers at the University of Quebec at Montreal (UQAM) and with Kanda University of International Studies (KUIS) of Chiba, Japan on their COE project.

NEC Laboratories America

NEC Laboratories

Watson Research Center, IBM

Asymmetry Project, UQAM

COE project, Graduate School of Language Sciences, KUIS

In 2003, I moved to the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona. I took a joint appointment in Linguistics and Computer Science. In addition to having a traditional linguistics program, the Linguistics Department here is also pushing forwards with its efforts in the Human Language Technology (HLT) area. Since my research topics are at the intersection of computer science and formal linguistics, this position meshes well with my current interests in multilingual parsing and modern syntactic theory, machine translation evaluation, ontolinguistics, WordNet, computational lexical semantics and computational morphology. Take a look at my resume and publications available here on-line.

Department of Linguistics, University of Arizona

Department of Computer Science, University of Arizona

Cognitive Science Program, University of Arizona


Outside of the university, as you see from my interests listed below, my time and energy are mostly focused on sports, maintaining fitness and the outdoors.

First and foremost, I'm an avid cyclist, specializing in long distance events such as brevets and 1200 km randonnees. For example, I have completed Boston-Montreal-Boston (BMB), a distance of 1200 km or 750 miles with around 30,000 ft of climbing, in 57 hours. I have ridden in the French Alps, the Dolomites, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and even Canada. I love distance and climbs. More mundanely, I also commute a few times a week, each trip being 30 miles roundtrip.

Boston-Montreal-Boston (2002 results) organizer for La Marmotte and other cyclosportives in France

NJ Randonneurs

Randonneurs USA

I also used to be a dedicated and competitive table tennis player, not quite making 2200 (USA Table Tennis rating). Nowadays I keep a low profile and play occasionally for fun at the University of Arizona's table tennis club.

USA Table Tennis

Sport Clubs, University of Arizona

New Jersey Table Tennis Club, where I used to play

(no website) MIT Table Tennis Club, where first I learnt to play as a graduate student

Since arriving in the Southwest, I have dabbled in hiking since it's a hiker's paradise here in the Sonoran desert with the surrounding mountain ranges.

Trail Guide, Sierra Club Tucson
With the good weather that suffuses the Southwest, I have finally managed to learn to swim, albeit embarassingly late in life. More interestingly, I acquired a basic scuba diving license (PADI Advanced Open Water), thereby expanding my horizons. So far, I have dived in Pennslyvania, the southern islands of Japan, the Carribean and Mexico. I'd like to dive all over the world.

PADI Professional Association of Diving Instructors

SCUBA Connection, Hillsborough NJ, where I first learnt to dive

Dutch Springs, Bethlehem PA

Jalousie Hilton, St. Lucia

Nilaina Resort, Iriomote, Okinawa, Japan

San Carlos, Mexico

Finally, also recently, I have begun to reacquaint myself with alpine skiing after a hiatus of more than 15 years. Believe it or not, there is skiing to be had within driving distance of Tucson.

Mt. Lemmon Ski Valley, Tucson AZ

Sunrise Park Resort, Greer AZ

Sandiway Fong
May 2004, Tucson AZ

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