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A Bayesian Framework for Cross-Situational Word-Learning
Michael C Frank · Noah Goodman · Josh Tenenbaum

Wed Dec 05 03:20 PM -- 03:30 PM (PST) @

For infants, early word learning is a chicken-and-egg problem. One way to learn a word is to observe that it co-occurs with a particular referent across different situations. Another way is to use the social context of an utterance to infer the intended referent of a word. Here we present a Bayesian model of cross-situational word learning, and an extension of this model that also learns which social cues are relevant to determining reference. We test our model on a small corpus of mother-infant interaction and find it performs better than competing models. Finally, we show that our model accounts for experimental phenomena including mutual exclusivity, fast-mapping, and generalization from social cues.

Author Information

Michael C Frank (Stanford University)
Noah Goodman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Josh Tenenbaum (MIT)

Josh Tenenbaum is an Associate Professor of Computational Cognitive Science at MIT in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL). He received his PhD from MIT in 1999, and was an Assistant Professor at Stanford University from 1999 to 2002. He studies learning and inference in humans and machines, with the twin goals of understanding human intelligence in computational terms and bringing computers closer to human capacities. He focuses on problems of inductive generalization from limited data -- learning concepts and word meanings, inferring causal relations or goals -- and learning abstract knowledge that supports these inductive leaps in the form of probabilistic generative models or 'intuitive theories'. He has also developed several novel machine learning methods inspired by human learning and perception, most notably Isomap, an approach to unsupervised learning of nonlinear manifolds in high-dimensional data. He has been Associate Editor for the journal Cognitive Science, has been active on program committees for the CogSci and NIPS conferences, and has co-organized a number of workshops, tutorials and summer schools in human and machine learning. Several of his papers have received outstanding paper awards or best student paper awards at the IEEE Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition (CVPR), NIPS, and Cognitive Science conferences. He is the recipient of the New Investigator Award from the Society for Mathematical Psychology (2005), the Early Investigator Award from the Society of Experimental Psychologists (2007), and the Distinguished Scientific Award for Early Career Contribution to Psychology (in the area of cognition and human learning) from the American Psychological Association (2008).

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