Arshavir Blackwell, PhD


Work Interests


I design and construct natural language processing systems using state-of-the-art machine learning algorithms, such as deep learning. Such systems process large amounts of textual data, on the order of millions or tens of millions of documents, from sources such as Facebook, Twitter, and news feeds. The goal is to extract useful insights from these data, such as:

  • categorizing documents (e.g, Facebook posts, tweets)
  • extracting semantically relevant information
  • performing sentiment analysis
  • automating Facebook targeting
  • providing rich, semantically informed summaries of document collections (e.g. what are people talking about and how do they feel about it).
Shortened summary

I work on the following problems: given the vast amounts of data available on the web, how can we use massively scalable, parallel algorithms such as deep learning to answer questions about what people are talking about, what their sentiments about those topics are, and what new and relevant information we can provide to them.

Shorter summary

Artificial Intelligence/machine learning researcher with expertise in automated natural language processing. Extensive experience in designing adaptive, language-using applications and in directing research projects that study how humans and automated systems learn and use language.

Shortest summary

#machinelearning #deeplearning #naturalLanguageProcessing #artificialintelligence #neuralnetworks

Work Experience

Principal, Arvonen Consulting, Los Angeles, CA,  current

Chief Scientist, CitizenNet, Condé Nast, Los Angeles, CA, 2010 – 2020.

Senior Research Scientist/Engineer, Fox Interactive Media, Los Angeles, CA, 2008 – 2010.

Principal Computer Scientist, MetaLINCS, San Jose, CA, 2007

Senior Scientist/Director of Research, H5 Technologies, San Francisco, CA, 2005 – 2007.

Senior Engineer & Project Lead, Entrieva, Reston, VA, 2003 – 2005.

Principal Scientist, Comprecorp, Nevada City, CA, 2001.

Senior Engineer, Ask Jeeves, Emeryville, CA, 1999 – 2000.

Skills and Research Interests

Platforms, Languages, & Representative Applications. Python, Java, C, C++, SAS

Experiment-related skills. Extensive experience with all aspects of experimental psychology research, including background literature search, hypothesis development, and design of experiment, experimental control system, experimental protocols and appropriate statistical analyses (including relevant computer applications).

Research interests. Language processing and language acquisition in humans and connectionist networks, large scale cognitive systems, connectionist models of second-language acquisition and lexical acquisition/processing, effects of working memory and other aspects of the general cognitive system on language.

Selected Publications

Blackwell, A. (2012). A Gentle Introduction to Random Forests, Ensembles, and Performance Metrics in a Commercial System. Web blog post.

Blackwell, A., Bates, E., & Fisher, D. (1996). The time course of grammaticality judgment. Language and Cognitive Processes, 11(4), 337-406.

Blackwell, A.W. & Bates, E. (1995). Inducing agrammatic profiles in normals: Evidence for the selective vulnerability of morphology under cognitive resource limitation. Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 7, 228-257.

Blackwell, A.W. (1995) Artificial Languages/Virtual Brains. Dissertation.


Ph.D., University of California, San Diego, 1995: Cognitive Science and Psychology.

A.B., Brown University, 1987: Honors Cognitive Science and Honors Creative Writing.