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Linguistic complexity as optimal grammar length: An information-theoretic approach

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  • UserFermín Moscoso del Prado Martín, Laboratoire Dynamique du Langage, Centre Nationale de la Recherche Scientifique & Institut Rhône-Alpin des Systèmes Complexes, Lyon
  • ClockTuesday 08 March 2011, 16:00-17:30
  • HouseGR-06/07, English Faculty Building.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Chris Cummins.

I will introduce a general and easily computable definition of linguistic complexity. I will show how simple information-theoretical measures can be used to compute Gell-Mann’s Effective Complexity measure for language. The measure is derived as the minimal possible size of a grammar that can generate all sentences in a reference corpus. The length of the reference corpus is then taken to its infinite limit (thus ensuring that all possible sentences in the language can be generated). I discuss the necessary condition that must be met for the existence of a finite grammar describing a given language. Finally, through the analysis of two American English corpora (one written and one spoken), I demonstrate the impossibility of constructing a finite grammar with full coverage of English. I will conclude by discussing the theoretical implications of this finding.

This talk is part of the RCEAL Tuesday Colloquia series.

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