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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
  • Data Science
  • Digital Arts Applied Minor
  • Pre-Engineering


  • 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.

Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
1-765-983-1200 — Main Switchboard
1-800-EARLHAM (327-5426) — Admission


Earlham admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, age, gender and sexual orientation in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school-administered programs.