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LII and CeRI do legal information science at dg.o 2008, Montreal

Tom Bruce, the LII’s director, and the multidisciplinary team from CeRI (Bruce, Cynthia Farina, Claire Cardie, and Steve Purpura) are giving workshops and presentations at the Digital Government (dg.o) 2008 conference in Montreal this week.Bruce is co-chairing a workshop entitled “e-rulemaking at the crossroads”. The workshop will consist of presentations from a variety of research teams working in the area of electronic rulemaking: public participation in the notice-and-comment process by which Federal regulations are constructed and reviewed. Presentations range from the policy-oriented to the very, very technical — e-rulemaking is a very useful place to do research in advanced language technologies and machine learning. The policy work draws heavily on Bruce and Farina’s service on the ABA Section of Administrative Law’s Special Committee on the Future of e-Rulemaking, for which Farina is reporter.

On Tuesday, Farina and Purpura will each present papers entitled (respectively) “A Study in Text Categorization for e-rulemaking” and “Active Learning for e-Rulemaking”. The former will present research results from work done with rulemakings from the Department of Transportation and the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industrial Security. The latter is a very technical paper comparing the accuracy of different categorization algorithms used to match comments to a taxonomy of issues raised by the regulation. Not, perhaps, the easiest thing to understand, because there’s lots of scary math involved — but a valuable first step toward increased public participation in the regulatory process.

We’re already learning a lot from people at other institutions. Particularly interesting is Peter Muhlberger‘s project at Texas Tech, some work on ontologies from Carnegie Mellon, and a paper on segmenting SEC filings that looks as though it describes useful techniques for getting better metadata out of Federal Court decisions — all of which can lead to new and better services from the LII.