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Computer Science PhD Student Shares His Thesis in Dance Video

Huy vu video

Imagine having the talent to communicate your research through a dance video? That’s exactly what Huy Vu did when he wrote, directed, produced and danced in a video about his thesis project, PsychGenerator, which he developed in the HLAB (Human Language Analysis Beings) on campus. The fifth-year PhD candidate in the Department of Computer Science at Stony Brook University created the video for the worldwide “Dance Your PhD” competition run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science and its research journal, Science. The contest requires students to explain their PhD thesis through dance and body movements.

PsychGenerator is an artificial intelligence (AI) model based on GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer, a language model that uses deep learning to produce human-like text) that generates natural language characteristics of psychological constructs such as personality traits and mental health. PsychGenerator enables AI with personality, providing both descriptions of psychological constructs as well as a foundation for psychologically informed language generation applications such as personalized chatbots, clinical training tools and machine translations that fit their audience’s background.

Huy’s thesis advisor is H. Andrew Schwartz, an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science. “Professor Schwartz’s research matches well with my interest, which is at the intersection of computer science and psychology, particularly using machine learning methods to understand human mental states and behaviors, such as mental health or depression levels through language.” Their hope is that PsychGenerator will allow psychologists to better understand the language manifestation of different personality profiles and that it can be the foundation for chatbots that are more human-like with human personalities.

This isn’t the first time Huy has made a video for the “Dance Your PhD” competition. His first video was in 2021, but since that was during the COVID lockdown, he was only able to film himself, which he said was fun, but not that fun! This year, with things back to normal, he had all of his lab partners join the video, which he said was a lot more fun, “especially my advisor, he’s very cool and joined the dance with us. He actually learned the choreography fast and performed pretty well too!”

In 2017, Huy earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and computer science from Vietnam National University Ho Chi Minh City University of Science, where he was leader of the university’s dance club. Although he considers himself to be a logical thinker, he has always loved dancing.

Huy plans to continue his work building text generative models that are human-like and interact well with people. He hopes to build a chatbot for psychotherapy to help people who are overcoming mental health problems. Although he says it’s challenging research, with the advent of strong large language models such as ChatGPT and his team’s experience in applying machine learning into psychology fields, he believes they can explore and create something useful.

About the Contest

Winners of “Dance Your PhD” are selected based on the aggregate of three scores: scientific merit, artistic merit and creative combination of science and art. The participant receiving the highest total score awarded by the panel of judges will win the Grand Prize, consisting of a payment of $2,000 from Primer via AAAS/Science Magazine.

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