Models of Language Acquisition
My dissertation work models how children can juggle multiple cues in language acquisition. For instance, in learning to recognize words, children can use probabilistic
information, phonotactics, stress patterns, and a variety of other cues. Each of these cues is only partially informative, and often the different cues' patterns are contradictory.
In order to obtain an adult's lexicon, children must learn not only the patterns within the cues, but also how to balance opposing cues. My research uses a log-linear model
to examine the problem at a computational level, identifying what information the child has available, how it can be used, and what this tells us about children's inherent linguistic knowledge.
I also am interested in issues of speaker choice, how speakers choose between different possible ways of saying something, often in a matter of milliseconds.
What information does a speaker have available when composing the rest of their sentence? What factors affect the speaker's decision making? When is the speaker more concerned
with alleviating production difficulty, and when with improving ease of comprehension? I look primarily at syntactic choice, specfically in the alternations needs to be done/needs doing
[Doyle Levy 2008] and the choice of that or who as a relative pronoun [Doyle Levy 2010].
I'm also working on a new experimental syntax method that directly compares sentences, rather than relying on an external scale of grammaticality. Removing the external scale may reduce cross-subject
disagreements, and avoid certain biases induced by indirect comparison.
In addition to my modelling work on langauge acquisition, I also work extensively with topic models, computational models that automatically identify words that occur in similar contexts.
This work includes an extended topic model that accounts for word burstiness [DCMLDA], the application of topic models to financial data [Doyle Elkan 2009],
and mapping texts and images multimedia learning problems [Rasiwasia et al 2010].
[My complete list of publications is available here.]