Towards a Formal Distributional Semantics
IWCS 2013 Workshop
Potsdam, March 19th 2013

March 19, 2013
IWCS home
Over the last 50 years, model-theoretic semantics has made great progress in formalising various phenomena of human language, especially those related to the compositionality of meaning. It has also left some aspects largely unexamined: in particular, those concerned with the meaning of content words, which have been the concern of lexical semantics. Distributional or vector-space models of meaning, in turn, successfully model many lexical semantic phenomena, but, despite recent efforts, still do not account for compositionality or the role of function words.
This workshop aims to foster the integration of formal and distributional semantics, building on their complementary strengths to produce better models of meaning in natural language. Its focus is on giving formal semantics a better handle on lexical semantics, while still preserving the aspects that have made it useful: for instance, the tight syntax-semantics interface for phenomena such as quantification, scope, modification and semantic roles, the notions of truth and extension, and the modeling of inference, at the level of both lexical items and propositions. Beyond the goal of better embedding lexical information in formal semantic representations, we encourage the investigation of the probabilistic aspects of distributional models in order to handle cases where truth theory falters (e.g., truth of generic statements). More generally, the workshop is open to new ideas about aspects of meaning beyond the level of truth values, and on how distributional semantics may contribute to the notion of intension. A non-exhaustive list of topics of interest includes:
  • Inferential properties of language both at the propositional and lexical level (e.g., how to account for entailment as licensed by different types of adjectives?).
  • Truth theory, reference, and extension (e.g., to what extent is there a relation between distributional representations built from corpora and models, which exhaustively enumerate individuals in a particular set? How could this be used to tie distributional representations of words with specific objects in real or virtual scenarios?).
  • Intension (e.g., can distributional models provide an alternative or complementary account to the definition of intension in terms of possible world semantics?).
  • Syntax-semantics interface (e.g., composition with different types of verbal arguments).
  • Morphology-semantics interface (e.g., exploring the possibility to build distributional models of derivational and inflectional morphology, for instance to capture the semantic difference between singular and plural forms of nouns).
  • Representation and mechanics of logical operators (e.g., how to account for negation, not only in propositions but also with regard to its effects on the lexicon; how to deal with coordination at the various levels at which it applies; how to deal with nominal and VP quantifiers?).
  • Semantic representation at the lexical and constituent / sentential level (e.g., what kind of representations do we need to retain lexical information at the level of the sentence?).
Organisers / Contacts
For all questions, please contact the TFDS 2013 organisers using the following email address:
Aurelie Herbelot
Universität Potsdam
Department Linguistik
Karl-Liebknecht-Straße 24-25
14476 Golm, Germany
Roberto Zamparelli
Center for Mind/Brain Sciences (CIMeC)
University of Trento, Palazzo Fedrigotti, Corso Bettini, 31
38068 Rovereto (TN), Italy
Fax: +39 0464 808654
Phone: +39 0464 80 8613
Gemma Boleda
The University of Texas at Austin
Department of Linguistics
Calhoun Hall 516A
1 University Station B5100
Austin, TX, USA 78712

Neues Palais, Universität Potsdam