AI: Mark Steedman University of Edinburgh The Computational Problem of Natural Language Acquisition ACES 2.402 Wednesday March 7 2007 11:00 a.m.
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Type of Talk:
Speaker/Affiliation: Mark Steedman Professor University of E
Date/Time: Wednesday March 7 2007 11:00 a.m.
ation: ACES 2.402
Talk Title: The Computational Problem of Natural
The talk reviews work-in-pro
gress on language acquisition in children and robots using combinatory cate
gorial grammar (CCG) building on work by Siskind Villavicencio and Zettl
emoyer among others.
CCG is a theory of grammar in which all langua
ge-specific grammatical information resides in the lexicon. A small univers
al set of strictly type-driven non-structure dependent syntactic rules (b
ased on Curry''s combinators B S and T) then projects lexical items into
sentence-meaning pairs. The task that faces the child in the earliest stage
s of language acquisition can therefore be seen as learning a lexicon on th
e basis of exposure to (probably ambiguous possibly somewhat noisy) senten
ce-meaning pairs given this universal combinatory projection principle an
d a mapping from semantic types to the set of all universally available lex
ical syntactic types.
The talk argues that a very simple statistical
model allows children to arrive at a target lexicon without navigation of
subset principles or attention to any attendant notion of trigger other th
an the notion reasonably short sentence in a reasonably understandable situ
ation. The model explains the pattern of errors that have been found in eli
citation experiments. The linguistic notion of parameter appears to be redu
ndant to this process.
The talk goes on to consider some more genera
l implications of the theory including its application to the phenomenon o
f syntactic bootstrapping touching on the question of the prelinguistic or
igin of the combinatory projection principle itself.
Mark Steedman is Professor in the School of Informatics at the
ty of Edinburgh. He received his PhD from the
University of Edinburgh in
1973. He came to Edinburgh in 1998
from the University of Pennsylvania
where he was Professor in
the Department of Computer and Information Sc
ience. He is a
Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelli
a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh and a Fellow of theBritish Academy.
His research interests cover issues in computatio
linguistics artificial intelligence computer science and
tive science and their applications in practical systems
tax and semantics of natural language
wide-coverage parsing comprehens
ion of natural language by
humans and by machine and the role of intona
tion in spoken
language generation and analysis. Some of his research co
the analysis of music by humans and machines. He has acted as
advisor for twenty-four PhDs.
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