[Seminar] Prof. Ryan Nefdt πŸ—“

Event Date: Wednesday, 18 October, 2023

Location: 09:00-11:00, Sala Riunioni, Pal. Venera (II piano)

Speaker: Prof. Ryan Nefdt (University of Cape Town)

Title: Natural Languages and Real Patterns: Grammars and Language Models

Abstract: Β In this talk, I present my own view of the nature of natural language and linguistics (Nefdt 2023). Specifically, I develop an account of languages as real patterns (Dennett 1991) and grammars as compression models of those patterns. By using some features of formal language theory and computational linguistics, I outline a rough schema for translating tools for algorithmic information theory into linguistics. I then show that under this interpretation traditional grammars are not as distinct from large language models as commonly thought.

Ryan Nefdt is an Associate Professor at the University of Cape Town who works broadly in the fields of cognitive science and the philosophy of science with interests in theoretical linguistics and AI. He has recently published a book entitled Language, Science, and Structure (OUP 2023) and has another forthcoming with Cambridge University Press. He has held research positions at MIT, Yale, UT Austin, Pittsburgh, Michigan, Minnesota, Edinburgh, Leeds, and the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.

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