It’s September again, and I am currently nearing the end of my Research Masters. This year I have been learning about, and researching, some topics in the field of Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing. I’ve been working on a project that integrates these technologies into a virtual learning environment, with the aim of assisting the student’s comprehension of any complex terminology within an academic paper.  

My Bachelors degree was in Web Development here at Manchester Met. I decided to continue on and do a Masters because I had gained an interest in Machine Learning, Artificial Intelligence, and Natural Language Processing, during the final year project of my BSc. Pursuing these topics as part of a Research Masters greatly interested me, as I find it much easier to stay motivated when I am given more freedom with the direction of my studies.  

The two main pieces of research I have completed this year consist of work in the tasks of Complex Word Identification (CWI), and Definition Modelling (DM). CWI looks at identifying words or phrases that the reader may find difficult to understand. DM is the task of generating, or selecting, a definition for a word or phrase. On the surface this may sound rather simple, however language can be very flexible and ambiguous, and a word’s meaning will often depend on the context in which it is used. Research in Machine Learning can be very resource intensive, and I was lucky to receive financial support from the Graduate School Research Support Award, which allowed me rent out Graphic Processing Units (GPUs) to train a model for the task of DM. 

I would recommend pursuing a research degree to anyone who is self-motivated and insatiably curious! My Masters this year has been a great taster for what to expect and watch out for when doing my PhD, and I am excited to continue my research degree journey. 

An example of the model I trained to retrieve definitions for words or phrases, applied within a virtual learning environment. 

Robert received a Manchester Metropolitan Graduate School Research Support Award to fund the rental of a key piece of equipment that enabled him to train a model for the task of Definition Modelling.  Find out more about the award and application process by visiting the PGR Development Moodle area. 

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