Machine Learning and the Cognitive Basis of Natural Language

Machine learning and statistical methods have yielded impressive results in a wide variety of natural language processing tasks. These advances have generally been regarded as engineering achievements. In fact it is possible to argue that the success of machine learning methods is significant for our understanding of the cognitive basis of language acquisition and processing. Recent work in unsupervised grammar induction is particularly relevant to this issue. It suggests that knowledge of language can be achieved through general learning procedures, and that a richly articulated language faculty is not required to explain its acquisition.
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