I develop and study statistical machine learning systems with applications in human language, biology, and social science. Currently, I am most excited about using these technologies to help people learn languages and make music.

Pretentious 3rd-Person Bio: Burr Settles leads the research group at Duolingo, an award-winning website and mobile app offering free language education for the world. He also runs FAWM.ORG, a global annual songwriting experiment. He is the author of Active Learning — an intermediate text on machine learning algorithms that are adaptive, curious, and exploratory (if you will). His research has been published in NeurIPS, ICML, AAAI, ACL, EMNLP, NAACL-HLT, and CHI, and has been covered by The New York Times, Slate, Forbes, WIRED, and the BBC among others. In past lives, he was a postdoc at Carnegie Mellon and earned a PhD from UW-Madison. Burr currently lives in Pittsburgh, where he gets around by bike and plays guitar in the pop band delicious pastries. ♦


  • Active Learning Book
    B. Settles
    Morgan & Claypool, 2012
    A short intermediate text on active learning, a subfield of machine learning and artificial intelligence. For researchers, graduate students, and engineers working in computer science, statistics, psychology, and related fields.
    publisher's website · Amazon.com · active-learning.net
  • Machine Learning Driven Language Assessment
    B. Settles, G.T. LaFlair, and M. Hagiwara
    Transactions of the Association for Computational Linguistics, 2020
    pdf · Duolingo English Test
  • A Sleeping, Recovering Bandit Algorithm for Optimizing Recurring Notifications
    K.P. Yancey and B. Settles
    Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining (KDD), 2020
    pdf · data
  • Simultaneous Translation and Paraphrase for Language Education
    S. Mayhew, K. Bicknell, C. Brust, B. McDowell, W. Monroe, and B. Settles
    STAPLE Shared Task @ ACL, 2020
    pdf · code+data · website
  • Second Language Acquisition Modeling
    B. Settles, C. Brust, E. Gustafson, M. Hagiwara and N. Madnani
    SLAM Shared Task @ NAACL-HLT, 2018
    pdf · code+data · website
  • A Trainable Spaced Repetition Model for Language Learning
    B. Settles and B. Meeder
    Association of Computational Linguistics (ACL), 2016
    pdf · code+data · Duolingo
  • Self-directed Learning Favors Local, Rather Than Global, Uncertainty
    D.B. Markant, B. Settles, and T.M. Gureckis
    Cognitive Science, 2016
    pdf · publisher's website
  • Closing the Loop: Fast, Interactive Semi-Supervised Annotation With Queries on Features and Instances
    B. Settles
    Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing (EMNLP), 2011
    pdf · software

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