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David Barbella
Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Dave is interested in designing systems that allow computers to take advantage of natural language text. ("Natural languages" is what computer science people call human languages, like English or Spanish, to distinguish them from programming languages, like Python or C.) Understanding natural language allows computers to learn by reading things that were written for people, instead of requiring an expert to convert the knowledge into a form the computer can understand. It also makes it easier for people to communicate with a machine.

Dave enjoys working with students with all levels of experience in computing, both inside and outside of his areas of research focus.

Contact Info

Campus Mail
Drawer 138



215 Center for Science and Technology

Website Link


  • Computer Science
  • Digital Arts Integrated Pathway


  • M.S., Northwestern University
  • B.A., Carleton College

Artificial intelligence, natural language understanding, cognitive systems, cognitive modeling, learning by reading, analogy, structure mapping, semantic disambiguation

Barbella, D. and Forbus, K. (2015). Exploiting Connectivity for Case Construction in Learning by Reading.  Proceedings of the Third Annual Conference on Advances in Cognitive Systems.

Barbella, D. and Forbus, K. (2013). Analogical Word Sense Disambiguation.  Advances in Cognitive Systems, 2:297-315.

Friedman, S., Barbella, D., and Forbus, K. (2012). Revising Domain Knowledge with Cross-Domain Analogy.  Advances in Cognitive Systems, 2, 13-24.

Barbella, D. and Forbus, K. (2011). Analogical Dialogue Acts: Supporting Learning by Reading Analogies in Instructional Texts. Proceedings of the Twenty-Fifth AAAI Conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI 2011), San Francisco, CA.