New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Language Acquisition in Computers

Team: 36

School: Desert Academy

Area of Science: Artificial Intelligence/Linguistics

Proposal: We intend to program a computer to ascertain the morphology, syntax and semantics of any given language. We will implement techniques used by children to obtain language, and evaluate their usefulness and applicability for various types of languages, as well as evaluating the inherent differences between human and computer learning of language. Although many attempts have been made to make a computer which understands human language, none have fully succeeded in the way that we intend. We hope to try and understand the algorithmic basis for linguistics which can then be treated as a computable system.

We will implement the techniques of language acquisition in the C++ programming language. We will begin with basic morphology, to allow the computer to become familiar with the forms of words in a given language. The computer will form a model of the consecutive appearance of different letters or symbols, thereby learning to differentiate between words which are and aren't part of the language. The computer will then learn the syntax of the language by understanding the ways in which words can be arranged based on parts of speech. Finally, the computer will learn semantics, understanding the relationships between individual words and the surface intentions of the speaker. Thus, the computer will be able to understand and possibly construct simple sentences.

Team Members:

  Megan Belzner
  Sean Colin-Ellerin

Sponsoring Teacher: jocelyne comstock

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