Tal August

Hello! I am a fifth year PhD student at the Paul G. Allen School for Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Washington, advised by Katharina Reinecke and Noah Smith. I study ways of making language more approachable to different readers, and I build reading tools to make this flexbility automatic. I am currently building reading tools to make scientific language more approachable, such as by automatically identifying writing strategies used in science blogs and articles to engage different audiences. In the past I have also examined how language styles (e.g., formality vs. informality, types of framing) influence user behavior in online experiments. I explored these effects of language style through online studies on LabintheWild.

Originally intending a Cognitive Science major, but finding myself in a different 'CS' discipline, I've been drawn to my current work through a mixture of Psychology, Design and HCI research at Tufts University, where I worked with Professors Rob Jacob, Remco Chang, Ayanna Thomas, and Ron Lasser.

For more information check out my CV.

Current Projects

  • Tal August, Lucy Lu Wang, Jonathan Bragg, Marti A. Hearst, Andrew Head and Kyle Lo, ''Paper Plain: Making medical research papers approachable to healthcare consumers with natural language processing'' Preprint
  • Tal August, Katharina Reinecke, and Noah A. Smith, ''Generating Scientific Definitions with Controllable Complexity'', Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), 2022. PDF
  • Elizabeth Clark, Tal August, Sofia Serrano, Suchin Gururangan, and Noah A. Smith, ''All That’s 'Human' Is Not Gold: Evaluating Human Evaluation of Generated Text'', Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), 2021. Outstanding Paper Award PDF
  • Amanda Baughan*, Nigini Oliveira*, Tal August, Naomi Yamashita, and Katharina Reinecke, ''Do Cross-Cultural Differences in Visual Attention Patterns Affect Search Efficiency on Websites'', Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2021. Best Paper Honorable Mention (Top 5%) PDF
  • Tal August, Lauren Kim, Katharina Reinecke, and Noah A. Smith ''Writing Strategies for Science Communication: Data and Computational Analysis'', Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP) 2020. PDF Blog Post
  • David Wadden, Tal August, Qisheng Li, and Tim Althoff, ''The Effect of Moderation on Online Mental Health Conversations'', Conference on Web and Social Interaction (ICWSM) 2021. Outstanding study design paper PDF
  • Tal August, Shamsi Iqbal, Michael Gamon, and Mark Encarnación, ''Characterizing the Mobile Microtask Writing Process'', Human Computer Interaction With Mobile Devices and Services (MobileHCI) 2020. PDF
  • Tal August, Maarten Sap, Elizabeth Clark, Katharina Reinecke, and Noah A. Smith ''Exploring the Effect of Author and Reader Identity in Online Story Writing.'', Workshop on Narrative Understanding, Storylines, and Events (NUSE) @ ACL, 2020. PDF Data
  • Tal August, Dallas Card, Gary Hsieh, Noah A. Smith, and Katharina Reinecke, ''Explain like I am a Scientist: The Linguistic Barriers of Entry to r/science'', Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2020. PDF
  • Amanda Baughan Tal August, Naomi Yamashita, and Katharina Reinecke, ''Keep it Simple: How Visual Complexity and Preferences Impact Search Efficiency on Websites'', Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2020. PDF
  • Tal August and Katharina Reinecke, ''Pay Attention, Please: Formal Language Improves Attention in Volunteer and Paid Online Experiments.”, Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2019. PDF
  • Tomoki Shibata, Alena Borisenko, Anzu Hakone, Tal August , Leonidas Deligiannidis, Chen-Hsiang Yu, Matthew Russell, Alex Olwal, Robert J. K. Jacob, "An Implicit Dialogue Injection System for Interruption Management" ACM ICPS Augmented Human International Conference (AH), 2019. ACM DL
  • Tal August, Nigini Oliveira, Chenhao Tan, Noah A. Smith, and Katharina Reinecke, “Framing Effects: Choice of Slogans Used to Advertise Online Experiments Can Boost Recruitment and Lead to Sample Biases”, Proceedings of ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work and Social Computing (CSCW), 2018. PDF
  • Manuel Nordhoff, Tal August, Nigini Oliveira and Katharina Reinecke, “A Case for Design Localization: Diversity of Website Aesthetics in 44 Countries”, Human Factors in Computing Systems (CHI), 2018. PDF
* Denotes equal contribution.

Past Projects
  • Found in Translation : A visualization tool for exploring the similarities and differences between languages across the world.

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email: taugust@cs.washington.edu

office: Paul Allen building 362