Simultaneously Acquiring the Syntax and Semantics of Spatial Referring Expressions
AuthorWright, Jeremy Bryan
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractTo be useful for communication language must be grounded in perceptions of the world, but acquiring such grounded language is a challenging task that increases in difficulty as the length and syntactic complexity of utterances grow. Several state of the art methods exist to learn complex grounded language from unannotated utterances, however each requires that the semantic system of the language be completely defined ahead of time. This expectation is problematic as it assumes not only that agents must have complete semantic understanding before starting to learn language, but also that the human designers of these systems can accurately transcribe the semantics of human languages in great detail. This paper presents Reagent, a construction grammar framework for concurrently learning the syntax and semantics of complex English referring expressions, with an emphasis on spatial referring expressions. Rather than requiring fully predefined semantic representations, Reagent only requires access to a set of semantic primitives from which it can build appropriate representations. The results presented here demonstrate that Reagent can acquire constructions that are missing from its starting grammar by observing the contextual utterances of a fully fluent agent, can approach fluent accuracy at inferring the referent of such expressions, and learns meanings that are qualitatively similar to the constructions of the agent from which it is learning. We propose that this approach could be expanded to other types of expressions and languages, and forms a solid foundation for general natural language acquisition.
Degree ProgramGraduate College