Ling 499R: Understanding Language Understanding, Spring 2023

Course Description

The verb "understand" gets thrown around a lot in linguistics and AI. We use it to refer to the process of human language comprehension. We talk about, and debate, the idea of artificially intelligent agents understanding us. We also use the word to refer to our goals in scientific research: we seek to understand how language works.

In this class we'll ask, what does it mean to understand language? We'll look at the pieces of the puzzle from two perspectives: the sciences of the artificial (to steal a term from Herbert Simon), and the sciences of the natural world, i.e. the study within cognitive science of the human capacity for language.

This is an advanced undergraduate course designed for dual Linguistics and Computer Science majors.

This course should be considered a work in progress. Although some formal requirements are necessarily spelled out in advance in the syllabus, the exact content of classroom time, readings, and homework assignments will evolve as we become better informed about the capabilities and interests of the people taking the class.

Course Goals

After successfully completing this course you should be able to:

Logistical info

Course Times: MW 2:00pm - 3:15pm

Classroom: MMH 1304


Schedule of Topics

Class discussions and announcements will take place on Piazza