July 20, 2006

Getting on the map

You can tell that a group has made the big time when people start complaining about them. With that in mind, I'm happy to see this cartoon from xkcd:

I hope that readers won't think I'm being defensive, but I'd call the proliferation of models and methods in computational linguistics a sign of flexibility rather than lack of definition. If everyone agrees that there's only one way to do things, you're more likely to be looking at a cult than at a viable scientific or engineering discipline. (And then the approach that everyone agrees on probably doesn't work, anyhow...)

Well, maybe I am being a little defensive. So, exemplifying the diversity of methods in computational linguistics,here are two more cartoons. The first references one of the methods of speech analysis (applied in this case to animal communication):

while the second one illustrates transformational grammar:

[Hat tip to Matthew Hutson.]

Posted by Mark Liberman at July 20, 2006 12:40 PM