19th February 2021 - 11am - Frank Mollica: Seminar

Title:  Cognitive efficiency tradeoffs: a lens for understanding conceptual and linguistic representations



Control theory stipulates that if we want to achieve goals in the world, we need to mentally model the world. In the face of the richness of our experiences and our wetware storage potential, our models of the world are approximate. If we think of mental representations as stored information and mental processes as translations of that information, then communication is a central goal of cognitive science (albeit a simple one). It turns out through the lens of lossy communication, we can gain understanding and place interesting computational constraints on conceptual and linguistic structure. In this talk, I will discuss three communication problems involved in language: the learnability problem, the communication problem, and the memory problem. I will illustrate this cognitive efficiency trade-off to explain the developmental trajectory of kinship and number term acquisition and the typological diversity in grammatical morphemes for number, tense and evidentiality.


Frank Mollica is a Lecturer in Computational Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh. He holds a PhD in Brain and Cognitive Science from the University of Rochester on computational models of conceptual development. His research interests intersect formal models of human cognition, developmental science, linguistics and anthropology. He has worked on cross-culturally informed models of conceptual development, information-theoretic models of language processing and linguistic typology and pragmatic processing at the concept-language interface. You should definitely get coffee and go for a socially distanced walk with him sometime.



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Feb 19 2021 -

19th February 2021 - 11am - Frank Mollica: Seminar

This event is co-organised by ILCC and by the UKRI Centre for Doctoral Training in Natural Language Processing, https://nlp-cdt.ac.uk

Blackboard invitation