I am currently a 5th year PhD student in the linguistics department at Stanford University. I work in the areas of formal semantics and pragmatics, computational semantics and pragmatics, corpus linguistics, linguistic typology, and optimality-theory. At a high-level, the aim of my work is to combine insights from mathematical logic and mathematical psychology into linguistics proper, all of which is set against the emerging backdrop of the technologies of Silicon Valley and beyond. My goal is to develop computationally and psychologically viable models of semantic reasoning.
My dissertation is on the semantics of comparatives of all types, including ordinary, indirect, and meta-linguistic ones. I hypothesize that the semantics of all comparative types are effectively the same, as they all involve the comparisons of some number of individuals and some number of properties. As such, I am seeking to provide a unified semantics of all comparative types, using measure-theoretic techniques.
With Christopher Potts and Sven Lauer, I developed the Card Corpus, a highly structured corpus of 744 task-oriented dialogues collected with the goal of informing models of pragmatics and discourse. The corpus distribution includes Python and R code for working with the corpus as well as a slide show documenting its properties and reporting on some pilot studies.
I developed the House Proceedings Corpus (HPC), a highly structured corpus of complete congressional house proceedings that contains over 2,700 transcripts, tagged for part-of-speech (POS) using the Stanford POS tagger. The HPC is comprised of individual .JSON files to avoid data-corruption and easily importable into a MongoDB. The HPC has 181,648,994 tokens with a vocabulary of 314,031 words.
I became interested in the Finnish case system in 2010, when I took a class offered by Paul Kiparsky, Lauri Karttunen and Arto Anttila. In Finnish, the object of a transitive verb is case marked in one of two ways: with the accusative or partitive. Which case is assigned is a function of the lexical semantic properties of the verb, its object and the way in which their meanings are put together. The interesting question is: which lexical semantic properties trigger which case assignment?
The role of inference as it relates to natural language (NL) semantics has oft been neglected. Recently, there has been a move away by some NL semanticists from the heavy machinery of Montagovian-style semantics to a more proof-based approach. This represents a belief that the derivability plays as central a role in NL semantics as that of entailment. I have begun work in this area by logicizing certain aspects of Bill MacCartney's algorithmic approach to natural logic and proved a completeness theorem for it.
I have a set-theoretic solution to the ranking problem in the context of Arto Anttila's Partial Order Optimality Theory. With Cameron Jeffers, I am currently implementing the solution computationally as a web-based application that will be released as a teaching tool for those interested in Optimality Theory more generally.