The seminar will survey work on computational models of various aspects of language learning, including work by Cartwright & Brent (Cognition 1996, also in Brent's book) on word segmentation; John Goldsmith (CL 2001) on morphology; Nerbonne, Tjong Kim Sang, Stoianov and Konstantopoulos on phonotactics (various places); and Albright and Hayes (Cognition 2003) on learning phonology. We will relate these lines of work to linguistic and psychological issues such as the dispute concerning the poverty of the stimulus argument (Pullum and Scholz), connectionists' views (Elman et al. "Rethinking Innateness"), and work on children's sensitivity to distributional tendencies (work by Newport, Mintz, and others).

Purpose: To explore the increasingly important literature on computational models of human language learning. The focus is on simulations of human language acquisition, where the aim is not simply accuracy, but rather similarity to human accuracy (including error), the order of acquisition, etc. Especially interesting is work which aspires to neurological plausibility. The present course aims to explore this work by reading and discussing published papers. Our primary purpose therefore does not include an examination of applications of machine learning in natural language processing, i.e., studies whose primary aim is to improve, e.g., parsing accuracy.

Example: Tim Dorscheidt, Nicola Valchev and Terence van Zoelen Minimal Generalization of Dutch Diminutives, project report on the 2006-2007 course.

Prerequisites The course assumes familiarity with basic concepts of machine learning, but there will be time to review occasionally unfamiliar concepts as well. The course is aimed at students in research masters' programs, which assumes serious motivation and scientific maturity.

Note This course is referred to as Computermodellen voor taalverwerving in the Dutch course catalogue.

Docent J. Nerbonne
Literature Michael Brent. Computational Approaches to Language Acquisition. Cambridge: MIT Press. '97
Some other literature.
Organization Seminars with student presentations as well as discussion and (perhaps) presentations by guest researchers. All students are expected to read each paper and participate in discussions, as well as present at least one paper. Instructor will make early presentations, and lead discussions for these sessions, but will not lecture after the first meetings.
Time Fall, 2006
Place Tues. 15:30-17, A-weg 30, Rm 104
Thurs. 14:15-16, Harmonie 12.012
Credit Credit based on: leading discussion on (1-2) papers; contributions to discussions; either writing a brief (10-12pp) summary and critique of a paper or an implementation of a psycholinguistic hypothesis with report of results.
Level Research Master's
Information J.Nerbonne at RuG dot nl