On Wednesday, Vice President Mike Pence and Democratic nominee Sen. Kamala Harris will face off in a debate that might be more substantial than the presidential matchup the week prior. Where will the two vice presidential candidates differ in their policies? How will they interact with one another?
Michelle Borkin, an assistant professor in the Khoury College of Computer Sciences at Northeastern University, and her doctoral student, Laura South, have a new way to answer these questions and distill the often unwieldy debates into coherent, easy-to-access information: an online tool called DebateVis.
The project was created by an interdisciplinary team of researchers at Northeastern following a two-year-long study of argument structure and text summarization—the process of creating short, accurate, and fluent summaries of longer text documents. Rather than repeating soundbites and Twitter hot-takes, DebateVis downloads the entire debate and mines it for relevant information to help voters compare the candidates on a substantive level.