Universiteit van Amsterdam


Institute for Logic, Language and Computation

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15 December 2008, From Perception to Symbols, Amitabha Mukerjee

Speaker: Amitabha Mukerjee (IIT Kanpur, India)
Date: Monday 15 December 2008
Time: 14:00-15:00
Location: Room P.015A, Euclides Building, Plantage Muidergracht 24, Amsterdam
Life is... a trap for logicians. It looks just a little more mathematical and regular than it is; its exactitude is obvious, but its inexactitude is hidden; its wildness lies in wait.
- G. K. Chesterton, The Paradoxes of Christianity

While it is clear that there are a lot of regularities in the world, whether these can be handled by formal, symbolic processes is a question that is being widely debated today. In this work, we present computational evidence for the process by which symbols may arise from perceptual input (2D and 3D videos). Based on cognitive psychology models of pre-linguistic "perceptual schemas", we use unsupervised clustering on an intuitive feature space for object shapes, relative positions, and actions, we show how concepts corresponding to nouns, prepositions and verbs can be acquired. Finally, we show how these "prior" schemas can now be associated with linguistic commentary to pick out the words that best correspond to the concepts in the target language. These associations, with a semantic pole (the grounded perceptual schema) linked to a phonological pole (the word learned) constitute our elementary symbols. One of the primary differences with formal models of semantics is that the meaning associations for these symbols are plastic, and can be altered by subsequent experience. Issues regarding the composition of symbols indicate a preference for frequently occurring data, which is also typical of linguistic usage.

Please note that this newsitem has been archived, and may contain outdated information or links.