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lisp_seminar_nlp_2008 [2008/12/05 18:38] (current)
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 +Next Boston Lisp Meeting: Monday November 24th 2008 at 1800 at MIT 34-401B
 +Gregory Marton will give a talk about the meanings of English words as programs.
 +Gregory will introduce a way of thinking about the meanings of English
 +words as programs (c.f. SHRDLU), cast the problem of language learning
 +as a search through the space of possible programs, and show first
 +steps in learning. Gregory has created a system called Sepia that
 +makes it relatively easy to write small lexicons that implement some
 +semantic theory for a domain. Applications that Gregory and several
 +colleagues have had fun with include:
 +    * understanding dates and times and other measures: "next Wednesday"​
 +    * finding and linking names of people, organizations,​ places
 +    * telling a robot what to do with stuff on a table: "touch the red one"
 +    * asking about spatial paths in video: "show people entering the kitchen"​
 +    * a toy gossip world: "John loves Mary" "Who does not hate Mary?"
 +    * a little number theory: "18 is twice the sum of its digits"​
 +These applications are inherently brittle, and manual construction
 +gets harder as the application grows. The research goal is to
 +construct new meaning programs with little human input, or with input
 +from non-programmers. Given a problem phrase, Sepia uses standard ways
 +to find similar words that it knows. Its current approach is to take
 +the meanings of those words and makes small changes, looking for a
 +combination that produces the target meaning.
 +Both the system as a whole and the language of semantics are
 +implemented in the GNU/Guile flavor of Scheme.
 +Gregory Marton is a PhD student in computer science at MIT, and this
 +is his dissertation topic. His first language is Hungarian, and since
 +meeting English at age eight, he has wondered about meanings and how
 +to learn language. He has a B.S. in Computer Science with a minor in
 +Linguistics from the University of Maryland, College Park, 1999.
 +The Lisp Meeting will take place on Monday November 24th 2008 at 1800
 +(6pm) at MIT, Room 34-401B.
 +As the numbers indicate, this is in Building 34, on the 4th floor.
 +This is the usual location, on 50 Vassar Street, Cambridge.
 +MIT map: http://​​bin/​map?​selection=34
 +Google map: http://​​maps?​q=50+Vassar+St,​+Cambridge,​+MA+02139,​+USA
 +Many thanks go to Alexey Radul for arranging for the room, and to MIT
 +for welcoming us.
 +* *
 +Buffet: ITA Software, a fine employer of Lisp hackers (disclosure:​ I
 +work there), is kindly purchasing a buffet to accompany our Monthly
 +Boston Lisp Meeting. Anyone who attends is welcome to partake. We
 +appreciate it if you let us know you're coming, and what food taboos
 +you have, so that we can order the right amount of food. Tell us by
 +sending email to boston-lisp-meeting-register at We
 +won't send any acknowledgment unless requested; importantly,​ we'll
 +keep your identity and address confidential and won't communicate any
 +such information to anyone, not even to our sponsors.
 +* * *
 +The previous Boston Lisp Meeting on October 27th had over 30
 +participants. Tim McNerney gave copious background on the Thinking
 +Machines Corporation and its line of massively parallel computer as an
 +introduction to his work on automated verification of a compiler
 +optimization pass through abstract interpretation. Both the
 +presentation and the following discussion were very lively.
 +We're always looking for more speakers. The call for speakers and all
 +the other details are at http://​​120393.html
 +For more information,​ see our new web site For posts
 +related to the Boston Lisp meetings in general, follow this link:
 +http://​​tag/​boston-lisp-meeting or subscribe to
 +our RSS feed: http://​​data/​rss?​tag=boston-lisp-meeting
 +Please forward this information to people you think would be
 +interested. Please accept my apologies for your receiving this message
 +multiple times. My apologies if this announce gets posted to a list
 +where it shouldn'​t,​ or fails to get posted to a list where it should.
 +Feedback welcome by private email reply to
 +[ François-René ÐVB Rideau | Reflection&​Cybernethics | http://​ ]
 +When all lawful citizens are disarmed, will we have an omnipresent police
 +state to protect us from armed criminals?
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