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Computer Journalism Start-Up Wins Chicago Innovation Award

Narrative Science, a company started by two McCormick professors that uses a computer program to automatically generate news stories, has been honored with a 2011 Chicago Innovation Award.

The awards, presented Tuesday at the Harris Theater in Chicago, highlight the creative spirit in Chicago by focusing attention on the most significant new products and services introduced in the region. Ten awards were granted among more than 400 nominees.

Narrative Science is the brainchild of Kris Hammond, professor of electrical engineering and computer science, and Larry Birnbaum, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science,  who created a software program called StatsMonkey that automatically generates sports stories using commonly available information such as box scores and play-by-plays. The project was the result of a collaboration between McCormick and Medill School of Journalism.

To create the software, Hammond and Birnbaum and students working in McCormick's Intelligent Information Lab created algorithms that use statistics from a game to write text that captures the overall dynamic of the game while also highlighting key plays and players.

Partnership between the McCormick and Medill schools has also resulted in the Knight News Innovation Laboratory, a joint lab space in the Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center where researchers use technology tools to create new media projects and better inform the public.

Read a New York Times article about Narrative Science.