Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Computational Lexical Semantics

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course


DEPARTMENT Institute of Linguistics and Language Technology

DESCRIPTION This unit will be divided into two parts.

Part 1 will focus on theoretical contributions to the study of lexical semantics, which have emerged within the past decades from the computational linguistics community. A historical overview of computational approaches to semantics will be given, and a particular contemporary theoretical framework will be selected to be covered in greater detail (e.g. James Pustejovsky's Generative Lexicon).

Part 2 will focus on approaches to the practical, computational task of learning or acquiring semantic information from data (especially corpora). Here, the focus will be on distributional semantics.

Throughout, the unit will emphasise the practical aspect, with students being encouraged to explore existing machine-readable resources, as well as build small applications to extract semantically relevant data from corpora.

Study-unit Aims:

In both knowledge-based and statistical approaches to NLP, meaning is a fundamental consideration, whether the aim is to produce programs that "understand" Natural Language in limited domains, or generate language from non-linguistic data. Hence, the aim of this unit is to build on students' knowledge of theoretical linguistic semantics by contextualising it within the field of NLP, focusing on contemporary approaches to the handling of meaning, from rule-based systems to data-driven methods.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- identify the main theoretical contributions made to the study of semantics from within the computational community, including the challenges posed to theoretical models when these are interpreted algorithmically and applied to real data;
- distinguish between symbolic and statistical computational approaches to the study of semantics.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

- apply theoretical concepts to the description and explanation of semantic phenomena;
- use computational techniques to exploit large data sets;
- apply techniques to extract semantically relevant information from corpora.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- J. Pustejovsky (1995). The Generative Lexicon. Cambridge, Ma: MIT Press
- D. Jurafsky and J.H. Martin (2009). Speech and Language Processing: An Introduction to Natural Language Processing, Speech Recognition, and Computational Linguistics. 2nd edition. New York: Prentice-Hall

ADDITIONAL NOTES Pre-requisite Study-unit: ICS1251 or equivalent

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Practicum

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM1 Yes 100%


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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2021/2. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.