[Ml-stat-talks] florian jaeger: today, january 8 @ 4:30pm

David Blei blei at CS.Princeton.EDU
Wed Jan 8 05:40:50 EST 2014


the dates were wrong in my announcement below, both in the subject and
in the abstract.

florian's talk is today january 8 @ 4:30PM.

(i'm sorry for the earlier mistakes.  thanks to gil and anna for
pointing them out!)



> Florian Jaeger
> University of Rochester
> 4:30 January 8th (Wed)
> Room 16 Joseph Henry House
> Research in my lab seeks to understand how language production and
> comprehension are shaped by the competing pressures inherent to
> communication, and how this in turn affects the development of
> language over generations. We approach these questions by drawing on
> mathematical theories of communication and inference to develop
> computational models that are evaluated against behavioral data (e.g.,
> lab- and crowdsourcing-based experiments; spoken corpus studies;
> typological data).
> A sometimes under-appreciated property of human communication is that
> the speech signal is both perturbed by noise and subject to systematic
> variability: the statistics of the speech signal are dependent on
> context (e.g., linguistic, social, visual). Critically, this includes
> context types that even an adult speaker will continue to frequently
> encounter novel instances of (e.g., novel speakers). During my 2012
> visit to Princeton, I presented my lab's efforts to understand how
> comprehenders typically overcome this noise and variability through
> hierarchical inference and adaptation. Efficient prediction of the
> signal (language understanding) is made possible by adapting
> expectations (or, in Bayesian terms, beliefs) about not only low-level
> statistics (phonetic realizations of sounds classes), but also higher
> level statistics affecting lexical, semantic, and syntactic inferences
> during incremental language understanding. I presented evidence how
> brief exposure to a novel environment (e.g., a novel speaker) is
> sufficient to override the effects of life-long experience for that
> environment, suggesting that we maintain and adapt
> environment-specific beliefs about linguistic distributions (Fine and
> Jaeger, 2013; Fine et al., 2010, 2013; Kleinschmidt & Jaeger, 2011,
> 2012; Jaeger & Snider, 2013; Yildrim et al., 2013).
> In this talk, I'll focus on production. This work investigates whether
> the systems underlying language production are organized so as to
> balance the demands inherent to production (e.g., sequential planning)
> and the goal of efficient information transfer (i.e, fast and robust
> inference of the intended message, incl., but not limited to,
> propositional, pragmatic, and social information). As would be
> expected if speakers contribute to efficient information transfer
> (Jaeger, 2006, 2013; Levy & Jaeger, 2007), production preference
> reflect a trade-off between prior inferrability and the quality of the
> speech signal: more predictable elements tend to be more likely to be
> reduced or omitted. As evidenced in both conversational speech corpora
> and production experiments, this tendency seems to hold at all levels
> of linguistic production (e.g., phonetics: Aylett & Turk, 2004; Buz &
> Jaeger, 2013; Bell et al., 2009; Pellegrino et al., 2011; morphology:
> Frank & Jaeger, 2008; Kurumada & Jaeger, 2013; syntax: Jaeger, 2010,
> 2011; Resnik 1996; Wasow et al., 2011).
> Interestingly, more recent work has confirmed that the same preference
> are reflected in the linguistic code (i.e., the lexicon and grammar)
> of languages across the world (e.g., Graff and Jaeger, 2009; Maurits
> et al., 2010; Piantadosi et al., 2011, 2012). I close by asking
> precisely how these biases enter languages. In a series of artificial
> language learning experiments, we investigated one potential answer --
> that biases enter language during acquisition (Fedzechkina et al.,
> 2012, 2013). We found that the same biases observed in native
> production make learners of a new language reshape that language
> towards greater communicative efficiency. Critically, this happens
> even with regard to features that are *not* present in the learners'
> native language. This suggests that at least *some* properties of
> languages across the world are a consequence of the *goals* of
> language use: the transfer of information.

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