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Learning and the language of thought

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dc.contributor.advisor Edward Gibson. en_US Piantadosi, Steven Thomas en_US
dc.contributor.other Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. en_US 2012-01-12T19:26:24Z 2012-01-12T19:26:24Z 2011 en_US 2011 en_US
dc.description Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, 2011. en_US
dc.description Cataloged from PDF version of thesis. en_US
dc.description Includes bibliographical references (p. 179-191). en_US
dc.description.abstract This thesis develops the hypothesis that key aspects of learning and development can be understood as rational statistical inferences over a compositionally structured representation system, a language of thought (LOT) (Fodor, 1975). In this setup, learners have access to a set of primitive functions and learning consists of composing these functions in order to created structured representations of complex concepts. We present an inductive statistical model over these representations that formalizes an optimal Bayesian trade-off between representational complexity and fit to the observed data. This approach is first applied to the case of number-word acquisition, for which statistical learning with a LOT can explain key developmental patterns and resolve philosophically troublesome aspects of previous developmental theories. Second, we show how these same formal tools can be applied to children's acquisition of quantifiers. The model explains how children may achieve adult competence with quantifiers' literal meanings and presuppositions, and predicts several of the most-studied errors children make while learning these words. Finally, we model adult patterns of generalization in a massive concept-learning experiment. These results provide evidence for LOT models over other approaches and provide quantitative evaluation of different particular LOTs. en_US
dc.description.statementofresponsibility by Steven Thomas Piantadosi. en_US
dc.format.extent 191 p. en_US
dc.language.iso eng en_US
dc.publisher Massachusetts Institute of Technology en_US
dc.rights M.I.T. theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission. See provided URL for inquiries about permission. en_US
dc.rights.uri en_US
dc.subject Brain and Cognitive Sciences. en_US
dc.title Learning and the language of thought en_US
dc.type Thesis en_US Ph.D. en_US
dc.contributor.department Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Brain and Cognitive Sciences. en_US
dc.identifier.oclc 768770884 en_US

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