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What is meaning? - Formalising the Distributional Hypothesis

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If you have a question about this talk, please contact Ekaterina Kochmar.

The distributional hypothesis of Harris states that words have similar meanings if and only if they occur in similar contexts. This idea has been successfully used to build models of lexical semantics, in which the meaning of a word is typically given by a vector describing its occurrence in different contexts. However there is currently no semantic formalism that describes how vector based representations for meaning should be composed, allowing reasoning about the meaning of phrases and sentences. In this talk I will introduce Context-theoretic Semantics, which I developed as part of my DPhil at the University of Sussex with David Weir. We proposed a framework which uses algebras over the real numbers as vector-based representations of natural language meaning. This provides a set of properties which we would expect a method of composing meaning to have, if it holds true to the notion of meaning as context. We also show that these properties are satisfied by many methods of composition that have been proposed in the literature.

This talk is part of the NLIP Seminar Series series.

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