This is the personal website of Dominic Widdows. It contains a range
of music, poetry,
essays, and so on.
Professionally speaking I work mainly in mathematics, language, and
software engineering, and I work on building dialog systems and
understanding natural language conversations
Once upon a time, I thought
that "Puttypeg" was a sweet name for an approach to life and learning
that tried to grow as flexibly as possible. It's said that "you can't
put a square peg in a round hole", and nowadays the challenges in the
world are changing so fast, we need adaptible people to fit into
whatever gaps need attention. So I don't try and be a square peg or a
round peg the whole time, I try to be a putty peg and look for ways to
make myself and my skills useful wherever they're needed most.
Needless to say, none of the material you'll read on this website
represents the official standpoint of LivePerson, Grab, Microsoft, Google, the
BBC, Bourbaki, or anyone else with a shred of organizational clout.
Lots of contributions can be found in
this reasonably complete list of papers. Not
all as readable as I'd have liked!
My most popular scientific work is still Geometry and Meaning. For
once, I had the chance to please everyone, including myself —
many general readers have written to me or reviewed the book saing
they enjoyed it thoroughly, while several professionals reviewers
praised the book in important journals.
- LaTeX to eBook 2021: The book about itself
is a tiny book and open source project called ebookbook
which was used to create the book about itself.
a powerful and easily configured package for language identification.
a package that uses the Python Imaging Library to render maps.
- Sky Map for
Android. The Android planetarium app is now an open source
project! It's a free mobile application for the Android platform that
uses your phone's sensors to display a map of the stars the phone is
pointing at (even if your roof, clouds, or the earth is in the way!).
Vectors, a Java package for creating semantic models: learning the
meanings of words and documents from reading lots of free
text. Originally created in conjunction with the University of Pittsburgh.
Now includes semvecpy,
which replicates some of the Java package in Python.
package, a forerunner of Semantic Vectors created in
conjunction with Stanford University.
I shouldn't even link to these, but here are some terrible jokes.
A collection of a few essays on different
topics, including healthcare, politics, and religion.
You'll find a couple of songs and some useful
guitar chord sheets.
Back in Pittsburgh I enjoyed playing the trumpet with
Khafif, a terrific Middle Eastern
and Balkan music and dance group.
Another collaborator in Pittburgh was Brent Malin, who I
played a variety of folk and country songs with for a couple of years,
including a guitar and mandolin duo at Club Cafe.
Arts and Crafts
Software development and academic research are enjoyable in their way,
but there is nothing I find more satisfying than working with my
hands. We're restored the ground floor of our Tudor style house in
Squirrel Hill, and made furniture, curtains, laid wood floor, panelled
and finished the rooms. I always mean to take pictures of these
projects before and during and after, and mean to post them
online. But give me a circular saw to play with and I won't touch a
computer all day.
One project I did keep a good record of was when Maryl and I made our
Here are a couple of poems.
We also set up a sporadic Pittsburgh poetry group
at work. It evolved accidentally into a collaborative process: the
players contribute a topic idea each, and then we go off for a few
days and write a poem, somehow including at least three or four of the
topics. The challenge of combining other people's ideas into a new
poem has brought out some great variety and creativity.
I keep an occasional weblog for a couple of years called Home Brewed
Bulletins, which you can read at puttypeg.blogspot.com.
There is a more tech-oriented blog at https://dwiddows.medium.com/.
Kit's Funeral, December 2007
My father Kit is still ever-present for many of us, and
crops up unexectedly at times for many more. Information about the
Funeral and Thanksgiving Service for the Life of Kit Widdows can be
found at http://www.puttypeg.net/kit.
A copy of my resume is available in pdf here.
You can contact me with any feedback or suggestions by writing to
dwiddows at gmail dot com.
(Please supply the usual symbols instead of the 'at' and 'dot' - the cryptic notation is just a token gesture to avoid getting the address harvested by spam engines.)