These pages describe a research project I am completing as part of my Master of
Science in Speech and Language Processing in the Speech, Hearing and Language Research
Centre at Macquarie University in
What is my project about?
At a high level, I want to look at classifying and exploiting intention
in email communications. I intend to capture intention by attempting to
classify the "speech acts" that are embodied in each email message, recognising
that in many cases, there will be multiple acts per message.
The basis for identifying intention will rely on Speech Act
Theory, which stems from the work of J L Austin and his student, John
Searle. The basic tenet of Speech Act Theory is that when we say something, we
do or achieve something (such as stating, questioning, commanding,
promising etc.). I hope to identify and classify such intentions in email
messages, and then examine the relationships between various speech acts across
My ultimate aim is to develop some useful tools to help users manage large
volumes of email. I envisage that my tool could identify outstanding tasks
(both for the user and their correspondents), such as flagging requests that
are unanswered, commitments that haven't been met etc. This could effectively
provide a new kind of task-oriented summarization for personal
collections of email.