The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Issue of Monday, September 29th, 2008

Cog Lunch 9/30 12pm: Steve Piantadosi

This week’s Cog Lunch features Steve Piantadosi, presenting work with Noah Goodman and Josh Tenenbaum.

Title: A formal model of number word acquisition
Time: Tues 9/30, 12PM
Location: 46-3310

We present a formal computational model for learning number word meanings from noisy, cross-situational evidence. The model learns to construct number word meanings in a developmentally-plausible “language of thought” and shows how rational probabilistic inference can explain several key developmental patterns. The model also illustrates how infinite, structured, recursive concepts may be learned from relatively little data in a fairly unrestricted hypothesis space.

The model also provides a formal framework for studying conceptual change. It implements bootstrapping, where each successive numerical concept is defined in terms of the previous one (Carey & Sarnecka 2006, Carey 2004). However, we provide a new formalization of bootstrapping that avoids a key problem posed by Rips, Asmuth & Bloomfield (2006, 2008)—that bootstrapping presupposes knowledge of number and therefore cannot explain how children learn numerical concepts. The model also shows how linguistic and conceptual structures may be crucially related in number word learning.

Ling-Lunch 10/2: Conor Quinn

Come join us for this week’s Ling-lunch talk:

Speaker: Conor Quinn
“Medials in the Northeast”
When: Thursday, Oct. 2, 12:30-1:45
Where: 32-D461

Aardvark! (with Jay Keyser)

Regattabar, Charles Hotel, Cambridge, MA
Tickets: $16. Reservations: 617.395.7757 or http://www.regattabarjazz.com/
MBTA: Red Line, Harvard Square T Stop

Hailed for “imagination, exuberance and sheer brio” (Jazz Review, UK), The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra, led by founder-music director Mark Harvey, will kick off its 36th season with an exhilarating show at the Regattabar featuring 16-year-old piano prodigy Matt Savage as special guest. The show will include Duke Ellington’s classic “Solitude,” the Count Basie favorite “Sent for You Yesterday,” and originals by guest artist Matt Savage and Aardvark music director Mark Harvey. Featured pieces will include the premiere of a big band arrangement of Harvey’s “Rockport Blues” and his multi-stylistic composition “No Walls.”

With worldwide distribution of 10 CDs and wide-ranging performances in festivals, clubs, concert halls, colleges and universities,The Aardvark Jazz Orchestra has been a major force in the international jazz scene for more than 30 years. The band is known for its electrifying concerts spanning the jazz spectrum, from the music of Duke Ellington and other jazz greats to original works by founder/music director Mark Harvey. Winner of the 2000 Independent Music Awards, the band has premiered more than 100 works for jazz orchestra and has garnered consistent critical acclaim around the globe. Downbeat marveled at the band’s “awe-inspiring audience fascination,” while JazzTimes wrote, “Aardvark suggests the best and the brashest of Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, George Russell, and even Frank Zappa.” Aardvark’s latest recording, American Agonistes (Leo Records), contains some of the band’s most evocative work to date (“a stunning hour of music that is in turn beautiful, poignant and raucous” Billboard.com).

Praised by Jazziz as a “wildly inventive composer, interpreter and pianist no matter what his age,” pianist Matt Savage began his performing career at the age of 8 and developed his skill and maturity over the past 8 years, working with such jazz notables as Clark Terry, Jimmy Heath, and Bobby Watson, among others. He has performed at the Ottawa International Jazz Festival and the New Orleans Jazz Festival, as well as such famed jazz clubs as Birdland, Blue Note and Dizzy’s Club Coca Cola at Jazz at Lincoln Center. Savage has also won ASCAP’S Young Jazz Composer Award every year since 2004. He has made numerous media appearances including “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” the “Today Show,” “20/20” and Marian McPartland’s popular “Piano Jazz” show on NPR. “This young man plays with grace, energy and originality. Jazz savant indeed!” (Marian McPartland)

Trumpeter-composer Mark Harvey is founder, music director and principal arranger for the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra. He has recorded with George Russell and Baird Hersey and performed with Gil Evans, Claudio Roditi, Howard McGhee, Sam Rivers, Herb Pomeroy and others. A composer with more than 120 works in his catalogue, Harvey teaches at MIT and lectures nationally on jazz and American music. He is a winner of awards/commissions from ASCAP, the National Endowment, Meet the Composer/Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Commissioning Program, Organization of American Kodaly Educators, the 15th Annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert, and the MIT Wind Ensemble, among others.

Aardvark personnel: Arni Cheatham, Peter Bloom, Phil Scarff, Chris Rakowski, Dan Zupan/saxes & woodwinds; K.C. Dunbar, Jeanne Snodgrass/trumpets; Bob Pilkington, Jay Keyser/trombones; Jeff Marsanskis, Bill Lowe/bass trombones, tuba; Richard Nelson/guitar; John Funkhouser/string bass; Harry Wellott/drums; Jerry Edwards/vocalist; Mark Harvey/trumpet, music director. Special guest: Matt Savage, piano.