UR Statistics Professor Taylor Arnold Receives International Fellowship for Research on How Language Changes Over Time

January 17, 2019

Taylor ArnoldUniversity of Richmond’s Taylor Arnold, an assistant professor of statistics in the Department of Math and Computer Science, has been awarded a more than $36,000 fellowship to participate in the Collegium program at the Lyon Institute for Advanced Study in France during the 2019-20 academic year.

The Collegium de Lyon program includes a research position abroad, and applicants are selected for their profile of excellence and innovative research project by an international scientific advisory board.

Arnold’s project will examine on how an individual’s use of language changes over time. Outcomes of his research include forming statistical models that can be used in the future to observe this type of data and an open source software library for applying techniques in the study of linguistic change to new datasets.

“This project looks at both the ways text differ from one author to the next and changes over time to word use and other basic elements of vocabulary,” explained Arnold. “The study of language has a long history, but being able to apply computational approaches within linguistics is fairly new. The models that result from this project will help us study and better understand language changes throughout history.”

Arnold will analyze two sets of data. The first is the large, multilingual set of Wikipedia edit comments. The second is the Federal Writer’s Project oral biographies from the 1930s.

“The works from the Federal Writer’s project are a great collection to study the ways people are represented and the language used by each of the writers in the project,” Arnold said. “The Wikipedia set is equally valuable as the content of pages on Wikipedia is provided by volunteers who self-govern themselves about decisions and directions taken on articles.”

Arnold has expertise in cultural analytics, natural language processing, computer vision, and statistical computing. He has been teaching at UR since 2016.


The Institutes for advanced study offer a high-quality environment to nurture scientific creativity. As a space of freedom, without hierarchies or institutional constraints, it fosters significant scientific progress. The Collegium de Lyon and its researchers, in collaboration with the 172 laboratories and 6,800 researchers of the academic site, organize and take part in various scientific activities. The works produced at the IEA lead to numerous publications of international reach.