LEC talk 21st April: Matt Spike

By Kevin | April 24, 2015

Tues 21st April 11-12.30, Room 1.17, Dugald Stewart Building

Matt Spike

Rules and randomness: recognising and measuring the emergence of structure

Linguistic structure and possible explanations for its emergence are
common themes in evolutionary approaches to language. However,
probably because of the many different ways in which linguists employ
the word ‘structure’ (e.g. combinatorial, compositional, syntactic
etc.) and other related terms (e.g. complexity, construction,
pattern), it can be hard to pin down exactly which of these senses we
are trying to recognise as an emergent property. Along with this, we’d
also like a general measure of structure for application across both
experimental and modelling work.
I am going to contrast structural descriptions with structured
processes, and argue for the latter as a more intuitive and useful
conceptual tool. I’ll then take a quick look at how this applies to a
few well-known models and experiments, but will concentrate on using
experimental data from the Simon Game as a test-bed for various
candidate measures (entropy, n-gram entropy, Kolomogorov complexity,
statistical complexity, G-score). I’ll use this to propose that none
of the above measures are exactly what we’re looking for, but that we
can use a combination of approaches to look for traces of different
types of structured behaviour. Finally, I’ll have a more speculative
look at how the appearance of structure might precede it in actuality.