Julie Beth Lovins

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Julie Beth Lovins was a computational linguist who first published a stemming algorithm for word matching in 1968.[1]

The Lovins Stemmer is a single pass, context sensitive stemmer, which removes endings based on the longest-match principle. The stemmer was the first to be published and was extremely well developed considering the date of its release and has been the main influence on a large amount of the future work in the area. -Adam G., et al[2]


Lovins was born on October 19th, 1945 in Washington, D.C. and grew up in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her father, Gerald H. Lovins worked as an engineer and her mother, Miriam Lovins, worked as a social services administrator.[3] Lovins' brother is Amory Lovins, an environmental scientist, and the co-founder and chief scientist of Rocky Mountain Institute.[4]

For her undergraduate degree, Lovins attended Pembroke College, the women's college of Brown University, which later combined into Brown University in 1971.[5][3] At Penbroke College, Lovins studied mathematics and linguistics and graduated with honors. Her thesis was named, A Study of Idioms.[6] She received the inaugural Bloch Fellowship in 1970 from the Linguistic Society of America to attend graduate school.[7] Lovins obtained her MA in 1970 and PhD in 1973 from the University of Chicago, studying linguistics.[4] At University of Chicago, her dissertation was titled, Loan Phonology -- Subject Matter.[8] A revision of her thesis on loanwords and the phonological structure of Japanese was published in 1975 by the Indiana University Linguistics Club.[9]

Teaching Career[edit]

Following Lovins' PhD, she spent a year working as a linguist-at-large at a University of Tokyo language research institute and as an English conversation teacher.[10] She then joined the faculty at Tsuda College as a professor of English and linguistics, where she taught for seven years.[11] During her time as a faculty member at Tsuda College, Lovins also served as a guest researcher in the University of Tokyo's Research Institute of Logopedics and Phoniatrics, a research center for speech science.[12]

Industry Career[edit]

After teaching Japanese phonology at prestigious Japanese universities abroad, Lovins moved back to the U.S. to work in the computing industry. She worked on early speech synthesis at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey. At Bell Labs, Lovins worked with Osamu Fujimura, a renown Japanese linguist who is credited as a pioneer in speech sciences.[13]

Lovins also worked as a software engineer at various companies in Silicon Valley and served as a consultant for computational linguistics throughout the 1990s.[14] As a consultant, she called her business, "The Language Doctor." [15]

The Lovins Stemming Algorithm[edit]

Lovins published an article about her work on developing a stemming algorithm through the Research Laboratory of Electronics at MIT in 1968.[1] Lovins' stemming algorithm is frequently referred to as the Lovins stemmer.[16]

A stemming algorithm is the process of taking a word with suffixes and reducing it to its root, or base word.[17] Stemming algorithms are used to improve the accuracy in information retrieval and in domain analysis.[18] These algorithms help find variants of the terms being looked up. Stemming algorithms are helpful because it is likely that users who look up a particular word might be interested in related words.[19] Stemming algorithms are prevalent in search engines, such as Google's, which did not implement word stemming until 2003. This means that up until 2003, a Google search for the word warm would not have returned related words like warmth or warming.

As the first published stemming algorithm, Lovins' work set a precedent and influenced future work in stemming algorithms, such as the Porter Stemmer published by Martin Porter in 1980 which has been recognized widely as the most common stemming algorithm for stemming English.[20] Additionally, the Dawson Stemmer developed by John Dawson is an extension of the Lovins stemmer.[21]

The Lovins stemmer follows a rule-based affix elimination approach.[22] It "removes the longest suffix from a word then the word is recoded to convert this stem into valid words."This process can be split into two phases. In the first phase, a word is compared with a pre-determined list of endings, and when a word is found to contain one of these endings, the ending is removed, leaving only the stem of the word. The second phase standardizes spelling exceptions that come out of the first phase, to ensure that words with slightly different stems are properly matched up together. For example, with the word dried, phase one results in dri, which should match with the word dry. The second phase takes care of these exceptions.[1]

Compared to other stemmers, Lovins' algorithm is fast and equipped to handle irregular plural words like person and people. Disadvantages are many suffixes are not available in the table of endings. It is sometimes highly unreliable and frequently fails to form words from the stems or to match the stems of like-meaning words. The reason being the technical vocabulary being used by the author.[21]

Personal Life[edit]

Lovins moved to Mountain View, California in 1979, and later to Old Mountain View in 1981 with her partner and later husband Dr. Greg Fowler, a software engineer and an advocate for environmental issues and the blind.[23][24]

In their free time, she and her husband enjoyed taking walks and volunteering for their local community. Lovins actively volunteered for organizations like the Old Mountain View Neighborhood Association, Mountain View Friends of the Library, League of Women Voters, Mountain View Cool Cities Team, and the Mountain View Sustainability Task Force.[25]

In 2016, Lovins's husband died unexpectedly, following a heart attack.[24][25] Eighteen days after her husband died, Lovins was diagnosed with brain cancer. She passed away on January 26th, 2018 at a hospice, surrounded by friends and caregivers.[23]


  1. ^ a b c Lovins, Julie (1968). "Development of a Stemming Algorithm" (PDF). Mechanical Translation and Computational Linguistics. 11 (1 & 2): 22–31.
  2. ^ Adam G., Asimakis K., Bouras C., Poulopoulos V. (2010). An Efficient Mechanism for Stemming and Tagging: The Case of Greek Language. Knowledge-Based and Intelligent Information and Engineering Systems. KES 2010. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. Lecture Notes in Computer Science. 6278. pp. 389–397. CiteSeerX doi:10.1007/978-3-642-15393-8_44. ISBN 978-3-642-15392-1.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  3. ^ a b "Palo Alto Online - Lasting Memories - Julie Beth Lovins's memorial". www.paloaltoonline.com. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  4. ^ a b "Reinventing Energy in China". Asia Society. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  5. ^ "Brown Alumni Monthly". 74 (9). Providence, Brown University [etc.] July 1974: 51. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  6. ^ "Brown University Theses and Dissertations".
  7. ^ "Linguistic Institute Fellowships". Linguistic Society of America. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  8. ^ "Graduate Alumni (1951-present) | Department of Linguistics". linguistics.uchicago.edu. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  9. ^ Lovins, Julie (1975). "Loanwords and the phonological structure of Japanese". Linguistics Club: 163. OCLC 1924640.
  10. ^ "Brown Alumni Monthly". 74 (9). Providence, Brown University [etc.] July 1974: 51. Retrieved 6 June 2017.
  11. ^ "Reinventing Energy in China". Asia Society. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  12. ^ "Research Institute of Logopedics and Phoniatrics Annual Bulletin" (PDF).
  13. ^ "In Memoriam: Osamu Fujimura".
  14. ^ "Palo Alto Online - Lasting Memories - Julie Beth Lovins's memorial". www.paloaltoonline.com. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  15. ^ "Federal Election Commission Committee Details".
  16. ^ "What is Lovins Stemming?". The Lovins Stemmer. Lancaster University. Archived from the original on 1 May 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2011.
  17. ^ "Stemming Algorithms". xapian.org. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  18. ^ "Porter Stemming Algorithm". tartarus.org. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  19. ^ "Information Retrieval: CHAPTER 8: STEMMING ALGORITHMS". orion.lcg.ufrj.br. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  20. ^ "Stemming and lemmatization". nlp.stanford.edu. Retrieved 2018-12-09.
  21. ^ a b Jivani, Anjali Ganesh. "A Comparative Study of Stemming Algorithms" (PDF). International Journal of Computer Technology and Applications. 2.
  22. ^ The 8th International Conference on Knowledge Management in Organizations: Social and Big Data Computing for Knowledge Management.
  23. ^ a b "Palo Alto Online - Lasting Memories - Julie Beth Lovins's memorial". www.paloaltoonline.com. Retrieved 2018-11-17.
  24. ^ a b "Remembering Greg Fowler".
  25. ^ a b "OMVNA Newsletter". www.omvna.org. Retrieved 2018-11-17.