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Computational evaluation of the Traceback Method

  • SHELI KOL (a1), BRACHA NIR (a2) and SHULY WINTNER (a1)


Several models of language acquisition have emerged in recent years that rely on computational algorithms for simulation and evaluation. Computational models are formal and precise, and can thus provide mathematically well-motivated insights into the process of language acquisition. Such models are amenable to robust computational evaluation, using technology that was developed for Information Retrieval and Computational Linguistics. In this article we advocate the use of such technology for the evaluation of formal models of language acquisition. We focus on the Traceback Method, proposed in several recent studies as a model of early language acquisition, explaining some of the phenomena associated with children's ability to generalize previously heard utterances and generate novel ones. We present a rigorous computational evaluation that reveals some flaws in the method, and suggest directions for improving it.

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