Department of Computer Science
HunterCollege, CUNY
695 Park Ave; New York N.Y. 10065
(212) 772.5211

William Gregory Sakas


City University of New York
Ph.D. (Computer Science), 2000.
     Dissertation title: Ambiguity and the Computational Feasibility of Syntax Acquisition.
Harvard College
AB (Economics), 1982.

Stuyvesant High School
New York State Regents diploma, 1978.

Teaching and Professional Experience

Assistant Professor, CUNY/Graduate Center, Ph.D. Program in Computer Science, May 2001 – present
Assistant Professor, CUNY/Graduate Center, Ph.D. Program in Linguistics, May 2001 – present
Courses/Seminars: Mechanisms of Syntax Acquisition, Computational Natural Language Learning and Data Mining
(Cross listed with Linguistcs and Cognitive Science)
Assistant Professor, CUNY/Hunter College, September 2000 – present
Taught: Software Design and Analysis I, Discrete Structures, Operating Systems and Interdisciplinary Graduate Center Seminar: Computational Mechanisms of Syntax Acquisition.
Instructor, CUNY/Hunter College, September 1999 to June 2000
Taught: Software Design and Analysis I, Discrete Structures and Operating Systems.
Substitute Instructor, CUNY/Hunter College, September 1997 to June 1999
Taught: Software Design and Analysis I and II.
Adjunct Lecturer, CUNY/Hunter College, September 1994 to June 1997
Taught: Software Design and Analysis I.
Research Assistant, CUNY/Hunter College, September 1992 to June 1994
Assisted Prof. Cullen Schaffer on the development of a knowledge infrastructure for the World Health Organization’s compilation of drug side-effect terms.Engineered software to generate new semantic relationships based on pre-existing expert knowledge.
Adjunct Instructor, Adelphi University, January 1985 to June 1989
Taught: Introduction to Programming, Data Structure Programming in Pascal, Assembly Language Programming, Introduction to Business Computing, MS Dos System Configuration for Advanced Users and Computers in Education.
Teacher, The Yeshiva University High School for Girls, January 1985 to June 1986
Taught: Computer Literacy and Introduction to Computer Programming.
Computer Education Consultant, September 1984 to January 1985
Developed syllabi, taught pilot courses and purchased equipment for private (K-12) schools in New York City establishing their first computer science programs.
Teacher, The American School in Switzerland (TASIS), September 1982 to June 1984
Developed and implemented the school’s first computer science program.Taught: Advanced Placement Computer Science and Computer Programming in Pascal (Junior College/Post-graduate Division); Computer Programming and Computer Literacy (High School Division).Also taught Algebra I and II, Music Theory and conducted the school choir.
Course Coordinator, Harvard Summer School, July 1982 to August 1982
Developed a syllabus and taught a series of one week courses to freshman and sophomores with little or no experience to computers and/or computer programming.
Adjunct Lecturer, Harvard Extension College, September 1981 to June 1982
Taught: Data Structures Using Pascal.
Group Leader/Instructor, Core Curriculum Computer Requirement, Harvard College, September 1979 to June 1982
Assisted in the development of a requirement dictating those fundamentals of computer programming that all incoming students were required to master.Wrote a study guide and exams, and taught classes for students needing to meet the requirement.Supervised and trained other instructors.

Industry Experience

Independent Computer Consultant, March 1985 to June 1992
Designed and engineered software to perform a wide variety of tasks including:
a distributed human resources administration database system
a payroll and budget forecasting application
a front-end database query parser
a marketing summary report generator
a world wide web database
a bank loan application approval system
Clients included Citibank,Warner Publisher Services, Warner Books,Stanwich Partners’ Investing Services, The International Congress of Oral Implantologists, PnT Marketing Services and the New York Center for Communications.

Other Experience

Computer Lab Assistant, CUNY Ph.D. Program in Computer Science, September 1997 – June 1998
Managed user accounts, maintained basic system functions    and installed software packages for an AIX RS6000 network.Also maintained    program’s web pages.
Computer Lab Manager, CUNY Ph.D. Program in Linguistics, January 1996 – September 1997
Installed and maintained a real-time speech analysis system.Set up and maintained a computer commons lab for student and faculty use.Budgeted, purchased and installed new hardware and software systems (PC and Mac).
Resident Composer/lyricist, Don Quiote Experimental Children’s Theater, September 1987 – June 1988
Wrote the musical score for several shows performed by professional adult actors that were presented to children from schools in the New York City area.


Book Chapter:

Sakas, W.G. and Fodor, J.D. (2001).The Structural  Triggers Learner.In S. Bertolo (ed.) Language Acquisition and Learnability. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Sakas, W.G. and Sylla, J. (1981). The Core Guide to PPL Programming.Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Science Center  Press.

Refereed Publications:
Sakas, W.G. (2000) Modeling the Effect  of Cross-language Ambiguity on Human Syntax Acquisition.   Proceedings of the joint meeting of the 4th Computational Natural Language Learning Workshop (CoNLL-2000) 2nd Learning Language in Logic Workshop  and 5th International Colloquium on Grammatical Inference.   New Brunswick, NJ:  Association of Computational Linguistics.               
Sakas, W.G. and Schmeidler, S. (2000). Parsing Triggers: a multi-lingual  parameter-based mechanism for determining sentence structure.CUNYForum , 20,  NewYork:City University of New York, Graduate Center
Sakas, W.G. and Fodor, J.D. (1998). Setting the First Few Syntactic Parameters  – A Computational Analysis. Proceedings of the Twentieth Annual Conference  of the Cognitive Science Society. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates

Refereed Presentations: 
Sakas, W.G. (2001) "Modeling Parameter Setting Performance in Domains with a Large Number of Parameters: A Hybrid Approach. CUNY/SUNY/NYU Linguistics Mini-Conference, SUNY Stonybrook, March 10.
Sakas, W.G. and Fodor, J.D. (2001). Learning-Relevant Properties of Natural Language, The 7th Annual Conference on Architectures and Mechanisms for Language Processing (AMLAP-2001), Saarbrücken, 20-22 September, 2001.
Sakas, W.G. and Fodor, J.D. (1997). Triggering, Hill-Climbing and the Conservative Learner: Can a stochastic trigger-based  learner afford Greediness as a  constraint? Conference on Computational  Psycholinguistics (CPL97), University of California at Berkeley, August 10-12.
Sakas, W.G. and Schmeidler, S. (1997). Parsing Triggers: A Parameter-based Algorithm. The Tenth Annual CUNY Conference on Human Sentence Processing , University of Southern California Santa Monica, March 20-22.

Invited talks

Syntactic Parameter Setting: A Case Study in Cognitive Modeling, CUNY Graduate Center Cognitive Science Symposium and Discussion Group, May 2000.
Computational Modeling of Natural Language Syntax Acquisition, CUNY Graduate Center Computer Science Seminar on Faculty  Research, December 2000.           


Superparsing natural language input
PSC-CUNY Research Award Program
$4,824 7/1/00 -  6/30/01
as Principle Investigator
(renewed at $4,431 for 7/1/01 - 6/30/02)     

An intelligent name and address parser
CUNY Institute for Software Design and Development
New software development award
$7,900 7/1/00 –  9/1/01
as Principle Investigator

Setting syntactic parameters: A computational analysis of child-directed speech
CUNY Collaborative Incentive    Research Grant Program
$30,000  10/1/00 -  8/31/02
as Project Director with Janet Fodor (Co-director)