Tag Archives: Computational/Corpus
Computational Modeling of Sound Change

James Kirby – University of Edinburgh
Morgan Sonderegger – McGill University
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 3:30-5:20 pm
2347 Mason Hall

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Decades of empirical research have led to an increasingly nuanced picture of the nature of phonetic and phonological change, incorporating insights from speech production and perception, cognitive biases, and social factors. However, there remains a significant gap between observed patterns and proposed mechanisms, in part due to the difficulty of conducting the type of controlled studies necessary to test hypotheses about historical change. Computational and mathematical models provide an alternative means by which such hypotheses can be fruitfully explored. With an eye towards Box’s dictum (all models are wrong, but some are useful), this course asks: how can computational models be useful for understanding why phonetic and phonological change occurs?  Students will study the growing and varied literature on computational and mathematical modeling of sound change that has emerged over the past decade and a half, including models of phonetic change in individuals over the lifespan, phonological change in speech communities in historical time, and lexical diffusion. Discussion topics will include the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches (e.g.simulation-based vs. mathematical models); identifying which modeling frameworks are best suited for particular types of research questions; and methodological considerations in modeling phonetic and phonological change. For this course, some background in probability theory, single-variable calculus, and/or linear algebra is helpful but not required.

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Computational Psycholinguistics

John Hale – Cornell University
Lars Konieczny – University of Freiburg
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am
2330 Mason Hall

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This course examines cognitive models of human sentence comprehension. Such models are programs that express psycholinguistic theories of how people unconsciously put together words and phrases in order to make sense of what they hear (or read). They hold out the promise of rigorously connecting behavioral measurements to broader theories, for instance theories of natural language syntax or cognitive architecture. The course brings students up to speed on the role of computer models in cognitive science generally, and situates the topic in relation to neighboring fields such as psychology and generative grammar. Students master several different viewpoints on what it might mean to “attach” a piece of phrase structure. Attendees will get familiar with notions of experience, probability and information theory as candidate explanations of human sentence processing difficulty. This course has no prerequisites although exposure to artificial intelligence, generative grammar and cognitive psychology will help deepen the experience.

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Corpus-based Linguistic Research: From Phonetics to Pragmatics

Mark Liberman – University of Pennsylvania
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 1:30-3:20 pm
Aud C

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Corpus-based Linguistic Research: From Phonetics to Pragmatics

Course website: http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/myl/lsa2013/

Big, fast, cheap, computers; ubiquitous digital networks; huge and
growing archives of text and speech; good and improving algorithms for
automatic analysis of text and speech: all of this creates a
cornucopia of research opportunities, at every level of linguistic
analysis from phonetics to pragmatics. This course will survey the
history and prospects of corpus-based research on speech, language,
and communication, in the context of class participation in a series
of representative projects. Programming ability, though helpful, is
not required.

This course will cover:

* How to find or create resources for empirical research in linguistics
* How to turn abstract issues in linguistic theory into concrete
questions about linguistic data
* Problems of task definition and inter-annotator agreement
* Exploratory data analysis versus hypothesis testing
* Programs and programming: practical methods for searching,
classifying, counting, and measuring
* A survey of relevant machine-learning algorithms and applications

We will explore these topics through a series of empirical research
exercises, some planned in advance and some developed in response to
the interests of participants.

There will be some connections to the ICPSR Summer Program in
Quantitative Methods of Social Research:

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Lexicography in Natural Language Processing

Orin Hargraves – Independent Scholar
Course time: Tuesday/Thursday 9:00-10:50 am
2325 Mason Hall

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Determining what words mean is the core skill and practice of lexicography. Determining what words mean is also a central challenge in natural language processing (NLP), where it is usually classed under the exercise of word sense disambiguation (WSD). Until the late 20th century, lexicography was dominated by scholars with backgrounds in philosophy, literature, and other humanistic disciplines, and the writing of dictionaries was based strongly on intuition, and only secondarily on induction from the study of examples of usage. Linguistics, in this same period, establish itself as a discipline with strong scientific credentials. With the development of corpora and other computational tools for processing text, dictionary makers recognized first the value, and soon the indispensability, of using evidence-based data to develop dictionary definitions, and this brought them increasingly into contact with computational linguists. The developers of computational linguistic tools and resources eventually turned their attention back to the dictionary and found that it was a document that could be exploited for use in the newly emerging fields of linguistic inquiry that computation made possible: NLP, artificial intelligence, machine learning, and machine translation. This course will explore the computational tools that lexicographers use today to write dictionaries, and the ways in which computational linguists use dictionaries in their pursuits. The aim is to give students an appreciation of the unexploited opportunities that dictionary databases offer to NLP, and of the challenges that stand in the way of their exploitation. Students will have an opportunity to explore the ways in which dictionaries may aid or hinder automatic WSD, and they will be encouraged to develop their own models for the use of dictionary databases in NLP.

Students must have native-speaker fluency in English. Thorough knowledge of Englsih grammar and morphology is an advantage, as is knowledge of the rudiments of NLP.

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Machine Learning

Steve Abney – University of Michigan
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm
1401 Mason Hall

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This course provides a general introduction to machine learning. Unlike results in learnability, which are very abstract and have limited practical consequences, machine learning methods are eminently practical, and provide detailed understanding of the space of possibilities for human language learning.

Machine learning has come to dominate the field of computational linguistics: virtually every problem of language processing is treated as a learning problem.  Machine learning is also making inroads into mainstream linguistics, particularly in the area of phonology. Stochastic Optimality Theory and the use of maximum entropy models for phonotactics may be cited as two examples.

The course will focus on giving a general understanding of how machine learning methods work, in a way that is accessible to linguistics students. There will be some discussion of software, but the focus will be on understanding what the software is doing, not in the details of using a particular package.

The topics to be touched on include classification methods (Naive Bayes, the perceptron, support vector machines, boosting, decision trees, maximum entropy classifiers) and clustering (hierarchical clustering, k-means clustering, the EM algorithm, latent semantic indexing), sequential models (Hidden Markov Models, conditional random fields) and grammatical inference (probabilistic context-free grammars, distributional learning), semisupervised learning (self-training, co-training, spectral methods) and reinforcement learning.

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Praat Scripting

Kevin McGowan – Rice University
Course time:
Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm, MLB OR
Monday/Wednesday 1:30 pm – 3:20 pm, 2353 Mason Hall

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This course introduces basic automation and scripting skills for linguists using Praat. The course will expand upon a basic familiarity with Praat and explore how scripting can help you automate mundane tasks, ensure consistency in your analyses, and provide implicit (and richly-detailed) methodological documentation of your research.  Our main goals will be:

    1.  To expand upon a basic familiarity with Praat by exploring the software’s capabilities and learning the details of its scripting language.

    2.  To practice a set of scripting best practices to help you not only write and maintain your own scripts but evaluate scripts written by others.

The course assumes participants have read and practiced with the Intro from Praat’s help manual. Topics to be covered include:

    o Working with the Objects, Editor, and Picture windows

    o Finding available commands

    o Creating new commands

    o Working with TextGrids

    o Conditionals, flow control, and error handling

    o Using strings, numbers, formulas, arrays, and tables

    o Automating phonetic analysis

    o Testing, adapting, and using scripts from the internet

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Python 3 for Linguists

Damir Cavar – Eastern Michigan University
Malgorzata E. Cavar – Eastern Michigan University
Course time: Monday/Wednesday 9:00-10:50 am, MLB OR
Tuesday/Thursday 11:00 am – 12:50 pm, 2347 Mason Hall

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This course introduces basic programming and scripting skills to linguists using the Python 3 programming language and common development environments. Our main goals are:

- to offer an entry point to programming and computation for humanities students, and whoever is interested

- to do so without requiring any previous computer or IT knowledge (except basic computer experience and common lay-person computer knowledge).

The course covers in eight sessions the interaction with the Python programming environment, an introduction to programming, and an introduction to linguistically relevant text and data processing algorithms, including quantitative and statistical analyses, as well as qualitative and symbolic methods.

Existing Python code libraries and components will be discussed, and practical usage examples given. The emphasis in this course is on being creative with a programming language, and teaching content that is geared towards specific tasks that linguists are confronted with, where computation of large amounts of data or time consuming annotation and data manipulation tasks are necessary. Among the tasks we consider essential are:

- reading text and language data from- and writing to files in various encodings, using different orthographic systems and standards, corpus encoding formats and technologies (e.g. XML),

- generating and processing of word lists, linguistic annotation models, N-gram models, frequency profiles to study quantitative and qualitative aspects of language, for example, variation in language, computational dialectology, similarity or dissimilarity at different linguistic levels,

- symbolic processing of regular grammar rules to be used in finite state automata for processing of phonotactic information or morphology, but also context free grammars and parsers for syntactic analyses, and higher level grammar formalisms, and the use of these grammars and language processing algorithms.

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