Workshop on Computing and Phonology

A small workshop on computational aspects of phonology is held at the University of Groningen (RUG), the Netherlands, on December 8, 2006. The workshop is open to anyone, but we kindly ask you to register not later than December 4. Should you have any question, please feel free to contact Tamás Bíró at birot @

Harmony Building, H13.309 (Multimediazaal)
Oude Kijk in't Jatstraat 26, 9712 EK Groningen.

View all abstracts


Chair: Dicky Gilbers
9:30Opening: John Nerbonne
9:40Tamas Biro (ACLC, Universiteit van Amsterdam):
Simulated Annealing for Optimality Theory: A performance model for phonology

View abstract

10:20Bart Cramer and John Nerbonne (CLCG, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen):
Scaling Minimal Generalization
In this study, we model the phonotactics using minimal generalization, a stochastic rule-based system proposed by Albright and Hayes (2003), who used this system successfully on learning the past tense in English. Their system generates rules that try to generalize over the phonetic features of the input (in our case, the CELEX database). These rules are hypotheses which might prove wrong in other parts of the input; hence they are 'stochastic'. This algorithm maintains the explicitness of rule-based systems, but adds an element of stochastic comparison. The results from Albright and Hayes also suggest that the model captures some aspects of cognitive representation faithfully.
However, when we apply this methodology to the problem of phonotactics, it does not immediately generalise well. It accepted well-formed examples well, but was ill-equipped to reject strings as ill formed. We therefore propose improvements to the original algorithm, first, to force it to greater discrimination, and second, to take into account implicit negative information as well. The improved algorithm reduces the number of rules by a factor 5, and thus improves the transparency of the output. It also cuts the number of errors (both false positives and false negatives) in half compared to the original algorithm.
Albright, Adam and Bruce Hayes (2003) "Rules vs. Analogy in English Past Tenses: A Computational/Experimental Study" in: Cognition 90, 2003, pp. 119-161

Close abstract


Chair: Petra Hendriks
11:30Gerhard Jäger (Universität Bielefeld):
Exemplar dynamics and George Price's General Theory of Selection

View abstract

12:10Paul Boersma (ACLC, Universiteit van Amsterdam):
The emergence of markedness

View abstract


Chair: Gosse Bouma
14:30Adam Albright (MIT, Cambridge, MA):
Modeling gradient phonotactic well-formedness as grammatical competence

View abstract

15:30Closing and coffee


If you intend to participate in the workshop, please register before December 4, 2006 in order to facilitate organisation.

Further information:

Information Science/Humanities Computing
Center for Language and Cognition Groningen (CLCG)
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG)

From Wilbert Heeringa's page:
A list of hotels in Groningen (please note that the prices are outdated).
Travel information

Thanks to Gerlof Bouma for the design.