Skip to content

Toggle service links

You are here

  1. Home
  2. Dr Paul Piwek

Dr Paul Piwek

Profile summary

  • Central Academic Staff
  • Senior Lecturer
  • Faculty of Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics
  • School of Computing & Communications
  • paul.piwek

Professional biography

Dr Paul Piwek holds first-class degrees (both cum laude) from the Universities of Tilburg and Amsterdam. He studied linguistics, computer science and philosophy (Tilburg University, Netherlands) and the philosophy of linguistics and cognitive science (University of Amsterdam, Netherlands). He gained his PhD in 1998 at the Institute for Perception Research (Eindhoven University and Philips Research) with a thesis entitled 'Logic, Information & Conversation'. Currently, he is a Senior Lecturer (i.e. Associate Professor) in computing at the Open University.

He has co-chaired several workshops and conferences, including the 2004 International Natural Language Generation Conference, the 2010 Question Generation Workshop (and Shared Task and Evaluation Campaign) and the 2014 AISB symposium on Questions, Dialogue and Discourse. He has edited special issues of journals such as Discourse Processes, the Journal of Logic, Language and Information, Language & Computation and Discourse & Dialogue.

He has led several projects at the Open University, with funding from the UK Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), and the eSTEeM initiave.

His research has been published in top conferences (including ACL, COLING, EACL, IVA, and NAACL) and journals (including Artificial Intelligence, Synthese, Journal of Logic, Language & Information, and the Journal of Pragmatics).

Research interests

Dr Piwek's research is driven by the question ‘How do we, humans, use language to communicate information?’ What is it that allows us to communicate information about objects, people, events, situations and even abstract ideas by producing certain noises or making ink marks on a piece of paper? How do we use language and gestures, such as pointing, to refer to the things in our surroundings? What makes us ask a question? What role do reasoning and argumentation play in our ability to communicate with each other? He studies these questions by constructing computer programs that simulate how people produce and understand language. His work draws on insights and ideas from several fields of study including linguistics, computer science, philosophy and cognitive science. His theoretical work is complemented by several initiatives that translate the results from this work into tools that help people navigate, communicate and use information more effectively.

Teaching interests

Dr Piwek has written Level 1 materials on information overload and freedom of information in the digital age. This includes a unit which helps students develop their argumentation skills using the argument mapping technique. He chaired the production of a Level 2 module on algorithms, data structures and computability. For this module he also authored materials on computational thinkingproof, computability and computational complexity. Currently, Dr Piwek is chairing the Level 1 module Introduction to Computing and IT 2 (TM112). He has written two study weeks on problem solving with Python for this module and has also contributed to several study weeks that examine the legal, social, security and ethical implications of information technologies. This includes sessions on argument mapping following up on the ArguEd project.

Dr. Piwek is currently also co-authoring a Badged Open Course on Digital thinking tools.

Dr Piwek is involved in an ongoing collaboration with Prendinger Lab at the National Institute for Informatics in Tokyo.

Research Activity

Research groups

NameTypeParent Unit
CRC (LM & KT): Natural Language GenerationGroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology
CRC (LM & KT): Natural Language ProcessingGroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology
CRC: Language, Multimedia and Knowledge TechnologiesGroupFaculty of Mathematics, Computing and Technology

Meet our Academics

Head and shoulders of male OU academic

In addition to teaching on Open University modules our academics are engaged in ground breaking research that benefits individuals and society.

Request your prospectus

Request a prospectus icon

Explore our qualifications and courses by requesting one of our prospectuses today.

Request prospectus

Are you already an OU student?

Go to StudentHome