Portrait of Asli Celikyilmaz

Asli Celikyilmaz

Principal Researcher


Research Interests:
My primary research interests in the fields of Deep Learning and Natural Language Processing, with broader interests in long form text generation, automatic summarization, improving encoder-decoder models, conversational dialog modeling. Specifically, i am interested in working in the fields of:

  • Statistical Natural Language Processing (NLP): Learning semantic relations to understand unstructured text, teaching machines to do tasks such as completing tasks for humans, video understanding, multi-modal knowledge learning, reasoning and synthesis.
  • Long Form Generation: Deep modelling of the long-term context, simulating the world to learn to generate creative and coherent stories, building multi-agents systems that can learn from the environment and work collaboratively in generating stories and summarizing multiple documents, videos, image threads.
  • Language Generation and Conversational Dialog Systems: Building conversational agents that can help users in their daily activities by learning from their environments, language understanding for generating coherent and human like responses.

Recent Talks

  • December 2019 – Document Understanding Workshop – NeurIPS, Vancouver Canada
  • October 2019 – 1. Siri Workshop on Conversational AI – Cambridge, UK
  • October 2019 – MSR New York Reinforcement Learning Days event – NYC, USA


    • New! Giving a Tutorial on Advances in Neural Text Generation at EMNLP 2020
    • New! ACL 2020 Demo Chair
    • Organizing 3rd Conversational AI Workshop at NeurIPS 2019


Microsoft Research, Principal Researcher, 2010-Present
University of California, Berkeley, Post-Doc Research Employee, 2008-2010
University of Toronto, Ph.D., Research Assistant, 2005-2008
University of Toronto, Masters, Information Science, 2003-2005
Information Intelligence Corporation, Toronto, Machine Learning and Data Mining Analyst, 2002-2003
Ford Motor Company, Data Mining Specialist, 1997-1999


Post-Doctorate Research, Computer Science, University of California, Berkeley, 2008-2010
University of Toronto, Ph.D., Information Science, 2005-2008
University of Toronto, Masters, Information Science, 2005-2003
Computer Programming and Analysis, Information Science, Seneca College, 2000-2002
Bachelor of Applied Science, Industrial Engineering, Istanbul Technical University, 1993-1997

Saadia Gabriel , University of Washington, Summer 2020.
Hannah Rashkin , University of Washington, Long Text (Story, Article) Generation, Summer & Fall 2019.
Ramakanth Pasunuru , UNC Chapel Hill, Summer 2019.
Prasoon Goyal , University of Texas, Austin, Summer 2019, Generation of the instructions from multimodal recipes (text+Video+images).
Angela Lin , University of Texas, Austin, Summer 2019, Aligning multi modal data from multiple resources
Roshan Rao , University of California, Berkeley, Summer 2019, Understanding how to collect large scale data​
Keping Bi , University of Massachusetts Amherst, Summer 2019, Information Extraction Losses for Extractive Summarization
Xin (Eric) Wang , University of California, Santa Barbara, Summer 2018, Graph Learning for Visual and Language Navigation
Amr Sharaf , University of Maryland, Summer 2018, Multi-Teacher Framework via Imitation Learning for Story Generation
Antoine Bosselut, University of Washington, Summer 2017, Winter 2018, Summer 2018, Reward-Based Long form Text Generation, and Deep Communicating Agents.
Elizabeth Clark , University of Washington, Summer 2018, Evaluation Metrics for Text Generation
Dinghan Shen, Duke University, Summer 2018, Latent Variable Models
Zhe Gan, Duke University, Summer 2017, Hierarchical Reinforcement Learning.
Baolin Peng, Chinese University of Hong Kong, in 2017 on Dialog Policy Learning for Composite Tasks.
Joo-Kyung Kim, Ohio State University, in 2016 on Intent Classification using Semantically Enriched Word Embeddings (now at Amazon)
Yangfeng Ji, Georgia Tech, in 2013 on Latent Variable Models of Intent Detection.
Young-Bum Kim, University of Wisconsin, Madison, in 2013 on  Task Dependent Word Embeddings for Slot Filling in Conversational Understanding (now at Amazon)
Aditya Bhargava, University of Toronto, in 2012 on Context Analysis for Conversational Dialog.
Svitlana Volkova, John Hopkins University, in 2011 on Sentiment Analysis in Conversational Text. (now at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory)

Honors and Awards

Best Paper Award, IEEE Int. Conference on Semantic Computing, Berkeley, 2009.
Postdoctoral Fellowship from British Telecom University of California, Berkeley,
NSERC – Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada, Postdoctoral
Fellowship (PDF), 2008-2010.
NSERC – Natural Science and Engineering Research Council, Graduate Scholarships
and Fellowships, PGSD2, 2007-2009.
OGS-Ontario Graduate Scholarships in Science and Technology, Ph.D., 2007-2008.
Ph.D. Fellowship, University of Toronto, 2005-2008.
Student Travel Grant from IEEE Computational Intelligence Society, 2007.
Best Paper Award, North American Fuzzy Information Processing Society, 2007.
Ontario, Canada Graduate Scholarship in Science and Tech. (OGS-ST), 2006-2007.
Research Assistantship Support, University of Toronto, 2005-2006.
Master of Science Fellowship, University of Toronto, 2004-2005.
Research Assistantship Support, University of Toronto, 2004-2005
Full Grant for Undergraduate Study, ISTEK Foundation (Turkey), 1993-1997

Invited Talks and Tutorials

Invited Tutorial Deep Learning for NLP at Coling, 2018.
Invited Talk NIPS Workshop on Conversational AI, 2017.
Panelist at NIPS Workshop on Conversational AI, 2017.
Tutorial on Deep Learning for Conversational Dialog Systems at ACL 2017
Interspeech 2017 and ICASSP 2017.
Intelligent Personal Assistants and Signal Processing Challenges, IEEE Signal Processing Society Santa Clara Valley Chapter, November, 2014.
Language Understanding, Machine Learning Summer School, UC Santa Cruz, 2012.
Conversational Understanding, BISC Lab in Computer Science, UC Berkeley, 2011.
Question Answering Made Easy, Int. Computer Science Institute, Berkeley, 2010.
Question Answering Effort in BISC Lab IEEE Int. Conf. Semantic Computing, Stanford, CA, 2009.

Teaching Experience

Lecture on Generative Adversarial Networks at the AI School at MSR AI, 2017.
Lecture on Deep Learning for Interactive Systems at the AI School at MSR AI, 2017.
Lecture on “Knowledge Modeling and Management”, Univ. of Toronto, 2007.
Lecture on “Data Modeling”, University of Toronto, 2006.
Lecture on “Decision Analysis”, University of Toronto, 2005.