Michael Hergenrader '12
I am a foreign language grammar geek. I love exploring all the possibilities of expression in rich languages like Spanish and Portuguese. Throughout my time at USC, I strived to communicate creatively in these languages, inside the classroom and out, constantly playing with new patterns and phrases to find a style. However, without full-time immersion in a native speaking environment, how could I determine that my manners of expression were in tune with the native parts of the world? To start answering this difficult question, I leveraged my other passion, Computer Science. In my senior thesis, I used natural language processing and machine learning techniques to statistically analyze millions of native Spanish and Portuguese texts. From the results of this analysis, I have discovered some of the most distinguishing features of written styles in many Spanish and Portuguese-speaking countries. Today, this research is a foundation for my continuing linguistic investigations. At Microsoft, I employ statistical machine translation theory to provide more relevant search and ad results in various international markets. And, on my time, I continually experiment, be it with algorithms or pens, to perfect my writing, striving to someday publish works written in the languages I so eagerly explore.