Dec. 9: Machine Learning and the Future of Philology

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What will philology become in the wake of the digital revolution? How can computer vision, handwritten text recognition, natural language processing, deep neural networks and/or other forms of machine learning refine the arsenal of techniques for studying premodern evidence?

Machine Learning and the Future of Philology, a works-in-progress symposium, will feature six teams of Princeton scholars who are applying machine learning to manuscripts, rare books, archives, inscriptions, coins and other pre-1600 texts. Presentations will include projects on materials in Syriac, Hebrew, Latin, Greek, Chinese and English. David Smith (Computer Science, Northeastern) will offer remarks.

The symposium will take place at the CDH on Friday, December 9, from 9 am to 5 pm at the Center for Digital Humanities (B Floor, Firestone Library) and on Zoom.

The schedule is posted below. Abstracts are available on the MARBAS website.

A green square with "MLFP" reads "Machine Learning and the Future of Philology."

9:00–9:15 am: Introductions
Marina Rustow (Princeton U)

9:15–10:00 am: HTC/OCR and the Building of the Simtho Syriac Corpus
George Kiraz (Institute for Advanced Study)

10:00–10:45 am: Handwritten Text Recognition (HTR), eScriptorium and Geniza Fragments: Anticipated Results and Philological Implications
Marina Rustow (Princeton U)
Daniel Stökl Ben Ezra (École Pratique des Hautes Études)

11:15–12:00 pm: Histories in Transition: The Écriture and Réécriture of History in Medieval Europe (9th to 12th century)
Helmut Reimitz (Princeton U)
Tim Geelhaar (U of Bielefeld)
Jan Odstrčilík (Austrian Academy of Sciences, Vienna)

12:00–12:45 pm: LOGION: Deep Neural Networks and the Future of Philology
Barbara Graziosi (Princeton U)
Charlie Cowen-Breen (U of Cambridge)

2:00–2:45 pm: Stratifying Early Chinese Texts through Rhyme Data
Gian Duri Rominger (Princeton U)
Nick Budak (Stanford U Libraries)

2:45–3:30 pm: Reading an Unreadable Sermon: AI Text Recognition in the Early Colonial Period
Gabriel Swift (Princeton U Library)
Seth Perry (Princeton U)
Kurt Lemai (Princeton U)

3:45–5:00 pm: Remarks and Group Discussion
David Smith (Northeastern U)

This event is co-organized by the Center for Digital Humanities and the Manuscript, Rare Book and Archive Studies Initiative, with support from the Center for Statistics and Machine Learning. This symposium is intended as the first of a pair; the second will take place in 2023–24 and solicit proposals from beyond the Princeton community. 

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