05 October 2018 - Paola Merlo: Seminar


Vectorial semantic spaces do not encode human judgements of intervention similarity



Despite   their  practical   success   and  impressive performances,

neural-network-based and  distributed semantics techniques  have often

been criticized as  they remain fundamentally opaque  and difficult to

interpret.   Several  recent  pieces  of work  have  investigated  the

linguistic abilities of these representations, and shown that they can

capture long agreement  and thus hierarchical notions.   In this vein,

we  study another  core,  defining and  more  challenging property  of

language: the  ability to construe long-distance  dependencies.  Human

languages  exhibit the  ability  to  interpret discontinuous  elements

distant from each other in the  string as if they were adjacent.  This

ability is  blocked if a  similar, but estraneous,  element intervenes

between the  discontinuous components.   We present results  that show

that  word embeddings  and the  similarity spaces  they define  do not

correlate  with experimental  results  on  intervention similarity  in

long-distance dependencies  narrowly defined. These results  show that

the linguistic encoding in distributed representations does not appear

to be human-like, and it also  brings evidence to the debate on narrow

or broad definitions of similarity in syntax and sentence processing.



Paola Merlo  is associate professor  in the Linguistics  department of

the University  of Geneva.  She  is the head of  the interdisciplinary

research  group Computational  Learning and  Computational Linguistics

(CLCL).   The  group  is  concerned  with  interdisciplinary  research

combining  linguistic  modelling  with  machine  learning  techniques.

Prof.  Merlo  has been editor of  Computational Linguistics, published

by  MIT  Press  and  a  member  of  the  executive  committee  of  the

ACL. Prof. Merlo studied theoretical  linguistics at the University of

Venice and  holds a  doctorate in  Computational Linguistics  from the

University of Maryland,  USA.  She has been  associate research fellow

at the  University of Pennsylvania,  and visiting scholar  at Rutgers,

Edinburgh, and Stanford.


Oct 05 2018 -

05 October 2018 - Paola Merlo: Seminar

ILCC seminar by Paola Merlo in IF 4.31/4.33

Informatics Forum 4.31/4.33