Universiteit van Amsterdam

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Institute for Logic, Language and Computation

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1 September 2011, Computational Linguistics Seminar, Suzanne Stevenson

Speaker: Suzanne Stevenson (Toronto)
Title: PleaComputational Models of Child Verb Learning: Mechanisms for abstraction and generalizationse enter title of lecture here
Date: Thursday 1 September 2011
Time: 15:00
Location: Room D1.113, Science Park 904, Amsterdam

Early verb learning in children seems an almost miraculous feat. In learning a verb, children must learn both the basic meaning of the event ("falling" or "eating"), as well as the allowable structures in their language for correctly communicating the participants in that event ("The glass fell", but not "She fell the glass"). Moreover, given the sparsity of evidence, children must be able to abstract away from specific usages they observe in order to use their knowledge of verbs productively. Finally, children must accomplish all this in the face of a high degree of variability among verbs, along with much noise and uncertainty in the input data, and with no explicit teaching. Do children require innate knowledge of language to accomplish this, or are general cognitive learning mechanisms sufficient to the task? We have developed various computational models of verb learning using unsupervised clustering over simple statistical properties of verb usages. Our findings support the claim that general learning mechanisms are able to acquire abstract knowledge of verbs and to generalize that knowledge to novel verbs and situations.

This is joint work with Paola Merlo, Afra Alishahi, and Chris Parisien.

For more information and abstracts, see http://www.illc.uva.nl/LaCo/CLS/.

Please note that this newsitem has been archived, and may contain outdated information or links.