Will Fitzgerald
1219 Grand Avenue
Kalamazoo, Michigan 49006, USA
269.599.9558 (cell)

April, 2015

Work Experience

Senior Speech and Natural Language Processing Engineer, Aether Things, San Francisco, California, December 2014 to present. Working on Aether’s music player, the Cone, improving the quality of its speech interface. Built Aether’s first human rating evaluation system for A/B testing. With a small team, built first NLP feedback system. Ran machine-learning experiments to improve voice search relevance.

Senior Natural Language Processing Engineer, Reverb Technologies, San Mateo, California, January 2013 to present. Wordnik became Reverb, naming itself after its iPad app, “Reverb”, a news recommendation platform. Building NLP systems, machine learning systems, recommendation and ranking systems.

Lead, Analytics Platform; Lead (Acting), Linguistic Infrastructure and Recommendation Systems, Wordnik.com, San Mateo, California. November, 2011 to January, 2013 (when Wordnik became Reverb). Wordnik’s goal is to gather words in context, and use the results in interesting and useful ways. Leading a seven person team to create lexical resources, manage the natural language processing pipeline, and develop content-based recommendation systems which also use social and personal signals. Also, leading the effort to apply evidence-based metrics for A/B testing for recommendation systems, etc.

Senior Research Development Engineer, Bing.com, San Francisco, California. August 2008 to November, 2011. Microsoft bought Powerset in 2008. I worked on various projects in general search including annotation of ads, sentiment analysis, named entity recognition, fact extraction, and search result page captions.

Senior Scientist, Powerset, San Francisco, California. April, 2006 to August 2008. Research and development of the Powerset search engine, especially lexical services, named entity recognition and fact extraction.

Scientist V, Ames Research Center, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). May, 2004 to April, 2006. Research and development for the Apex autonomy architecture for software agents that behave intelligently and responsively in demanding task environments.

Research Officer, National Research Council, Institute for Information Technology e-Business, Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada, Human Web Group. January, 2004 to April, 2004. Project lead for two internationalization/localization projects in partnership with CIDIF (Centre international pour le développement de l’inforoute en français).

Associate Professor, Kalamazoo College, Kalamazoo, Michigan. September, 2002 to August, 2003. Taught courses in computer science, including Theory of Programming Languages, Algorithms, Introduction to Artificial Intelligence, Introduction to Computer Science, and Senior Seminar. Chaired Intellectual Property committee for College.

Chief Technical Officer, I/NET, Inc. September, 2000 to September, 2002. Responsible for all software research and development, including I/NET’s conversational interface, including PI or co-PI on two NASA SBIR contracts.

Vice President (Research), Neodesic Corporation, November 1995 to August, 2000. Responsible for research efforts at R&D-based company, including efforts in natural language, conceptual memory and task execution and complex event recognition, including PI or co-PI on three NASA SBIR contracts.

Research Associate, Institute for the Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, November, 1994 to October, 1995. Project Manager for “The Yes Interactive Negotiation Workshop”, an award-winning software-based training system for improving negotiation skills.

Computer Systems Engineer, The Upjohn Company, 1986-1990. Developed and supported company-wide office automation systems. Provided training in office automation systems.

Instructor, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan, 1981-1986. Taught and developed curricula for courses in English as a Second Language for WMU’s Career English Language Center for International Students and the Department of Linguistics.

Instructor, Instituto de Estudios Norteamericanos, Barcelona, Spain, 1980-1981. Taught and developed curricula for courses in English as a Second Language.

Consultant Work

Levit & James, Inc. (Leesburg, Virginia). 2004. Document pattern analysis application development.

Evolution Robotics (Pasadena, California), 2003-2004. Full-time consultant developing applications and doing quality assurance on the Evolution Robotics Software Development Kit. Wrote applications in C++ and Python.


Northwestern University, Evanston, IL.
Ph.D. in Computer Science, 1994.
Thesis title: Building Embedded Conceptual Parsers

Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, IL.
M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language, 1980.
Thesis title: Nativization and Second Language Acquisition: A Study of Negation

Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI.
B.A. in Linguistics (with high honors), 1978.

Research Interests

Natural language understanding, computational models of dialogue, task execution, combining statistical/information theoretical models with semantic models for natural language understanding, humane computing, complex event recognition.

Technical Capabilities

These are some technologies in which I have recently developed significant projects.

Programming Languages: Scala, Common Lisp, Scheme, Ruby, R, Clojure, C++, Java, Python, Perl, PHP.

Web Technologies: HTML, XML, web services technologies (JSON, RPC, etc.), Ruby on Rails, Apache, JSP, Perl CGI.

Database Technologies: MongoDB, PostreSQL, Microsoft SQL Server, MySQL, ODBC, JDBC, PHP DBI, Perl DBI, Python DBI.

Operating Systems: Microsoft platforms, Linux and Unix systems, Macintosh.

Expertise: The software development process, Web services, internet and intranet technologies, human-machine interface, internationalization and localization, language understanding, programming language design, document management, statistics and measurement, recommendation systems.

Peer-reviewed Publications and Reviews

Fitzgerald, W. (2004). Martin Luther King and the “Ghost in the Machine.” In Cognition and Technology , Gorayska, Barbara and Jacob L. Mey (eds.), 345–353, Amsterdam: John Benjamins. (book chapter)

Fitzgerald, W. and R. James Firby (2002). Dialogue-based human-computer interfaces and active language understanding. International Journal of Cognition & Technology 1:2 pp. 273–284. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Fitzgerald, W. and Scholl, A. (1999) Review of The Little Schemer and The Seasoned Schemer. Intelligence, 10:2.

Fitzgerald, W and E. Goldstein (1997). Honesty of affordance. Chapter 9 in Humane Interfaces: Questions of Methods and Practice in Cognitive Technology. J.P. Marsh, B. Gorayska and J.L. Mey, editors. Amsterdam: Elsevier Science.

Kass, A., Burke, R. & Fitzgerald, W. (1996) How to Support Learning from Interaction with Simulated Characters, Chapter 16 in B. Gorayska and J.L. Mey, eds., Cognitive Technology: In Search of a Humane Interface, Elsvier Science.

Riesbeck, C.K. & Fitzgerald, W. (1994) Language understanding is recognition, not construction: Review of Morton Ann Gernsbacher, 1990, Language Comprehension as Structure Building. Psycholoquy 5(38) language-comprehension.4.riesbeck. Reprinted in Vivek, A Quarterly in Artificial Intelligence 7:4, pp. 18-20.

Published Proceedings

Robert Voyer, R. V Nygaard, W. Fitzgerald and H Copperman (2010) A hybrid model for annotating named entity training corpora Proceedings of the Fourth Linguistic Annotation Workshop Association for Computational Linguistics Stroudsburg, PA, USA.

Freed, M., P. Bonasso, K.M. Dalal, W. Fitzgerald and R. Harris (2005). An architecture for intelligent management of aerial observation missions. Proceedings of American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics “Infotech@Aerospace” Technical Conference, September 26–28, Arlington, Virginia.

Fitzgerald, W., D. Lemire and M. Brooks (2005). Quasi-monotonic segmentation of state variable behavior for reactive control. Proceedings of The Twentieth National Conference on Artificial Intellgence, July 9-13, Pittsburgh.

Fitzgerald, W. and M. Freed (2005). Using delayed streams to discern changing conditions in complex environments: Monitors in Apex 3.0. Proceedings of The International Lisp Conference, June 19-22, Stanford University.

Freed, M., W. Fitzgerald and R. Harris (2005). Intelligent Autonomous Surveillance of Many Targets with Few UAVs. Proceedings of The Research and Development Partnering Conference, Department of Homeland Security, April 27-28, Boston.

Fitzgerald, W., R. James Firby, A. Phillips and J. Kairys Complex Event Pattern Recognition for Long-Term System Monitoring. Proceedings of The Workshop on Interaction between Humans and Autonomous Systems over Extended Operation, at the 2004 AAAI Spring Symposium, San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Fitzgerald, W., R. James Firby, and Michael Hannemann (2003). Multimodal Event Parsing for Intelligent User Interfaces. Proceedings of International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces (IUI ’03), January 12-15, Miami, Florida.

Fitzgerald, W. and R. James Firby (2000). Dialog is task execution; task execution is best done reactively; therefore, dialog systems call for a reactive task execution architecture. Proceedings of The Workshop on Natural Dialogues with Practical Robotic Devices at the 2000 AAAI Spring Symposium, San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Fitzgerald, W. and R.James Firby (1998). The Dynamic Predictive Memory Architecture: Integrating Language with Task Execution. Proceedings of IEEE Symposia on Intelligence and Systems (SIS ’98), May 21-23, Washington, D.C.

Fitzgerald, W and R. James Firby (1996). Item descriptions add value to plans. Proceedings of The Workshop on Plan Execution: Problems and Issues of the AAAI Fall Symposium, San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Fitzgerald, W., & Wisdo, C. (1994). Using natural language processing to construct large-scale hypertext systems. In Proceedings of the Eighth Knowledge Acquisition for Knowledge-Based Systems, Banff, Canada: Jan 30-Feb 4, 1994.

Fitzgerald, W. (1994b). Indexed concept parsing for interactive tutors. In Proceedings of The Active Natural Language Workshop of the AAAI Spring Symposium, San Mateo, CA: Morgan Kaufmann.

Fitzgerald, W., & Riesbeck, C. K. (1994). Evaluating embedded parsers. In Proceedings of the AAAI 1994 Fall Symposium on Knowledge Representation for Natural Language Processing in Implemented Systems, New Orleans, LA: Nov. 1-4, 1994.

Published Technical Reports

Fitzgerald, W. Integrating Internationalized Websites with Databases and Email Systems: Working with Multilingual Texts. pp. 1-14. April 6, 2004. ERB-1107. NRC 46562, National Research Council Canada.

Fitzgerald, W. Models for Cross-Cultural Communications for Cross-Cultural Website Design. pp. 1-11. April 6, 2004. ERB-1108. NRC 46563 National Research Council Canada.

Open Source Software

Fitzgerald, W. (2011) GitHub repository Various open source projects on GitHub.

Fitzgerald, W., A. Phillips and J. Kairys (2003) Complex Event Recognition Architecture. C++ and Python code implementations of the Complex Event Recognition Architecture.

Fitzgerald, W. (2000) Time Data Types and Procedures. The computer language Scheme does not provide standard data types for time and dates. This software this lack by specifying data types for time and associated procedures.

Fitzgerald, W. (1994) Index Concept Parsing code, a simple frame system, and Direct Memory Access Parser code. Common Lisp code implementing “micro-versions” of the software described in my thesis.

Sponsored Projects

Visiting Researcher, NSF Research Education for Undergraduates in Computer Science, Hope College, May 27, 2003 to August 1, 2003.

Principle Investigator (Phase I), Co-investigator (Phase II), CERA: Complex Event Recognition Architecture, NASA SBIR Projects 99-1-08.04-1856 and 99-2-08.04-1856.

Co-investigator (Phase I), Conversation Interface Domains for Rapid Programming of Complex Natural Language: NASA SBIR Project NAS-9-01166.

Co-investigator, The Information Workbench. NASA SBIR Project 97-1-24.02-1856.

Principle Investigator, The xRAP System: A Modular Architecture for Executing and Monitoring Plan Sequences, NASA SBIR Project 96-1 05.02-1856.

Principle Investigator, Dynamic Predictive Memory Architecture. NASA SBIR Projects 93-1 09.15 1523 and 93-2 09.15 1523.