Computer Laboratory

Course pages 2013–14

Language and Concepts

First session

Anyone interested in taking this module is requested to email Ann Copestake before the first session. Note the required reading for the first session (listed below).

Reading list

Note that URLs are given for readings, but in some cases these will require login via a Raven password. Some of the additional material is only available in books, all of which are available in the University Library. Please contact the module leader if there are any difficulties with access to material. Additional material: further reading for topics covered in the session. Intended to be useful for essays or to provide more background.
  • Session 1: Introduction. Overview of concepts and discussion of the objectives of the module. Informal concept representation: dictionaries, encyclopedias and folksonomies.

    Slides from last year (pdf)

    Required reading:
    Concepts Margolis, Eric and Laurence, Stephen, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2011 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), (HTML)

    Additional suggestions:
    Introduction to WordNet: An On-line Lexical Database. George A. Miller, Richard Beckwith, Christiane Fellbaum, Derek Gross, and Katherine Miller. 1993. (pdf)

    Nouns in WordNet: A Lexical Inheritance System. George A. Miller. 1993. (pdf)

    Acquiring Ontological Relationships from Wikipedia using RMRS. Herbelot, A. and Copestake, A. In Proceedings of the Workshop on Web content Mining with Human Language Technologies, 2006, ISWC'06. (pdf)
    There are a large number of papers on ontology extraction --- I have listed this one because it is based on an MPhil project done in the Computer Laboratory.

  • Session 2: Concepts in computer science. Description logics and their use in the semantic web. Terminology databases, taxonomies and ontologies in eScience.

    Required reading:
    Description Logics as Ontology Languages for the Semantic Web Franz Baader, Ian Horrocks and Ulrike Sattler (pdf)
    Understanding of the full formal details won't be necessary.

    Using OWL to model biological knowledge. Robert Stevens, Mikel Egaña Aranguren, Katy Wolstencroft, Ulrike Sattler, Nick Drummond, Matthew Horridge, Alan Rector. Int. J. Human-Computer Studies 65 (2007) 583-594. (pdf)
    Understanding the biology won't be necessary!

    Additional suggestions:
    The Semantic Web Revisited. Shadbolt, N.; Hall, W.; Berners-Lee, T.; , Intelligent Systems, IEEE , vol.21, no.3, pp.96-101, Jan.-Feb. 2006 doi: 10.1109/MIS.2006.62. (pdf)

    Possibly useful for reference:
    Guidelines on Developing Good Ontologies in the Biomedial Domain with Description Logics Schulz et al 2012. (pdf)

  • Session 3: Concepts in linguistics and psychology. Generics. Concepts and compositional semantics.

    Required reading:

    Learning words for kinds: Generic noun phrases in acquisition.
    Susan A. Gelman
    In Weaving a lexicon (2004): 445-484. (pdf)

    Semantics, conceptual spaces and the meeting of minds
    M. Warglien & P. Gärdenfors (2005) (pdf)

  • Session 4: Concepts in computational linguistics. Inference and concepts. Distributional semantics and its relationship to symbolic approaches to concepts.

    Required reading:
    Vector space models of lexical meaning Stephen Clark. 2012

    Please also review the material on distributional semantics from the Lexical Semantics course.

    Nastase, Vivi, and Michael Strube. "Transforming Wikipedia into a large scale multilingual concept network." Artificial Intelligence (2013).

    For background/further references:
    Hovy, Eduard, Roberto Navigli, and Simone Paolo Ponzetto. "Collaboratively built semi-structured content and Artificial Intelligence: The story so far." Artificial Intelligence (2013). (pdf)

  • Session 5: In addition to the distributional semantics readings given above:
    Andrews, Mark, Gabriella Vigliocco, and David Vinson. "Integrating experiential and distributional data to learn semantic representations." Psychological review 116.3 (2009): 463. (pdf)

  • Session 6: Concepts in cognitive science and philosophy. Human concept acquisition.

    Required reading:
    Bootstrapping and the Origin of Concepts. Susan Carey. Daedalus. Vol. 133, No. 1, On Learning (Winter, 2004), pp. 59-68. Published by: The MIT Press on behalf of American Academy of Arts & Sciences (pdf)
    Piantadosi, Steven T., Joshua B. Tenenbaum, and Noah D. Goodman. "Modeling the acquisition of quantifier semantics: a case study in function word learnability." Under review (2013). (pdf)

    Background reading:
    Notes on generalised quantifiers. (pdf)

  • Sessions 7: Concepts in neuroscience. Experimental evidence concerning the brain's encoding of word meaning.

    Required reading:
    Pulvermüller, Friedemann. "How neurons make meaning: brain mechanisms for embodied and abstract-symbolic semantics." Trends in cognitive sciences 17.9 (2013): 458-470. (pdf)

    Lenci, Alessandro, et al. "BLIND: a set of semantic feature norms from the congenitally blind." Behavior research methods 45.4 (2013): 1218-1233. (pdf)

  • Sessions 8: open session.

    Required reading:

    David M. Blei, Communications of the ACM CACM, Volume 55 Issue 4, April 2012, Pages 77-84 (pdf)

    Levinson, Stephen C. "Language and space." Annual review of Anthropology (1996): 353-382. (pdf)

    Van Deemter, Kees. "Generating referring expressions that involve gradable properties." Computational Linguistics 32.2 (2006): 195-222. (pdf)


The pdf of any slides will be made available here, but generally not until after the session.