Undergraduate Course: Simulating Language (LASC10018)
|School||School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences
||College||College of Humanities and Social Science
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 10 (Year 3 Undergraduate)
||Availability||Available to all students
|Summary||In this course, we will build and run experiments with very simple models that nevertheless cast light on a wide range of puzzles - from the origins of animal communication all the way to the emergence of patterns of regularity and irregularity in language structure. Each of these models will build on the previous ones and at each step we will relate the practical work we are doing with the existing literature on simulating language, as well as broader issues in the scientific understanding of the origins and ongoing evolution of language
The study of the origins and evolution of language and communication has seen a resurgence of interest in recent years. Part of the reason for this has been the application of new techniques from computer modelling to test out different hypotheses about how language evolved. This allows researchers to run experiments on populations of simulated individuals, essentially rerunning competing proposed scenarios for the evolution of language.
In this course, we will build and run experiments with very simple models that nevertheless cast light on a wide range of puzzles - from the origins of animal communication all the way to the emergence of patterns of regularity and irregularity in language structure. Each of these models will build on the previous ones and at each step we will relate the practical work we are doing with the existing literature on simulating language, as well as broader issues in the scientific understanding of the origins and ongoing evolution of language.
This course will be suitable for anyone interested in the dynamic processes underpinning language, including individual learning, cultural transmission, and biological evolution. It will involve a mix of practical lab work, lectures and discussions.
Experience of programming (using any language) would be an advantage, but is not a prerequisite.
Information for Visiting Students
|Pre-requisites||Visiting students should have at least 3 Linguistics/Language Sciences courses at grade B or above (or be predicted to obtain this). We will only consider University/College level courses.
|High Demand Course?
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2018/19, Available to all students (SV1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Lecture Hours 27,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||The format will be two take-home assignments (worth 50% each). Each assignment will consist of one practical question and one theoretical question with a strict limit of one side of A4 for each answer. The first assignment will be given mid semester, allowing the students to receive feedback before tackling the second at the end of semester.
|No Exam Information
| - An ability to critically assess research papers that use modelling techniques;
- an understanding of those aspects of evolutionary linguistics in which modelling has played a part;
- an understanding of multi-agent simulation, and basic evolutionary computation and machine learning techniques;
- an ability to run and analyse computer simulation experiments in order to test hypotheses about the cultural and biological evolution of linguistic behaviour;
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
|Additional Class Delivery Information
||Teaching Contact Time: 9 weeks out of 11 at 3 hours/week = 27 hours
|Course organiser||Prof Simon Kirby
Tel: (0131 6)50 3494
|Course secretary||Ms Lynne Robertson
Tel: (0131 6)50 9870