Optimality Theory and Cognitive Science (seminar)

Spring 2014, LING 228 01 / 628 01 (S14), Yale University

Lecturer: Tamás Biró

Wednesday, 2:30-4:20, location t.b.a. ==> moved to Tuesday, 10:30-12:20, CLAY lab (370 Temple St, room 3.14)

Online Course Information

Course description


January 15: Introduction (slides).

January 22: organizational matters.

January 28: Intro and non-linguistic OT: Parker and Parker 2004.

February 4: Harmonic Mind, chapt. 1.

February 11: Harmonic Mind, chapt. 12.

February 18: Bidirectional OT: Blutner 2000.

February 25: Game Theory and linguistics: Jäger 2012.

March 4: Output-output faithfulness: Burzio 2002

March 25: Harmonic Mind, chapters 2 and 3.

April 1: Learnability (classical papers): Boersma and Hayes 2001.

April 8: Learnability (new results): Magri 2012

April 15: Learnability and language change (evolution) meets bi-OT and Game Theory: Jaeger 2003 and 2007.

April 22: Philosophical summary: Harmonic Mind, chapters 22 and 23.


Written response problem #1 (due: March 04).

Written response problem #2 (due: April 11).

Written response problem #3 (due: April 22).


(Most of them are password protected.)

OT basics and classics

McCarthy, John (2002). A Thematic Guide to Optimality Theory. Cambridge University Press.
  Chapter 2.

McCarthy, John (2008). Doing Optimality Theory: Applying Theory to Data. Blackwell Publisher.
  Chapter 1.

Paul Smolensky and Geraldine Legendre (ed., 2006). The Harmonic Mind: From Neural Computation to Optimality-Theoretic Grammar.
MIT Press: Cambridge, MA.
  Chapter 1     Chapter 2     Chapter 3     Chapter 4  
  Chapter 12     Chapter 22     Chapter 23  

Computational OT

Tamás Bíró (2006). Finding the Right Words: Implementing Optimality Theory with Simulated Annealing. (GroDiL 62.)
Phd-thesis, University of Groningen.
  Local link, as well as electronic version on the RuG website (including a picture of the cover; downloadable chapter-by-chapter).
  Chapter 1 (or local copy).

Luigi Burzio (2002). Missing Players: Phonology and the Past-tense Debate. Lingua 112, 157-199.
Publisher's website. (Also as password protected local copy).


Paul Boersma and Bruce Hayes (2001). Empirical tests of the Gradual Learning Algorithm. Linguistic Inquiry 32(1): 45–86.
Download from LI website. Local copy (password protected).

Bruce Tesar and Paul Smolensky (1998). Learnability in Optimality Theory. Linguistic Inquiry 29(2): 229–268.
Download from LI website. Local copy (password protected).

Frank Keller and Ash Asudeh (2002). Probabilistic learning algorithms and Optimality Theory. Linguistic Inquiry 33(2): 225–244.
Download from LI website. Local copy (password protected).

Paul Boersma (2003). Review of "Bruce Tesar and Paul Smolensky (2000): Learnability in Optimality Theory". Phonology 20(3): 436–446.
Download from journal website. Local copy (password protected).

Giorgio Magri (2012). Convergence of error-driven ranking algorithms. Phonology 29(2): 213–269.
Download from journal website. Local copy and local copy of supplementary material (password protected).

Bidirectional OT and Game Theory

Reinhard Blutner (2000). Some Aspects of Optimality in Natural Language Interpretation.
Journal of Semantics 17(3): 189–216.
Official version and readable version.

Gerhard Jäger (2002). Some Notes on the Formal Properties of Bidirectional Optimality Theory.
Journal of Logic, Language and Information 11(4): 427–451.
Local copy.

Gerhard Jäger (2006). Evolutionary Game Theory for Linguists. A primer.
Manuscript, Stanford University and University of Potsdam.
Link (local copy).

Gerhard Jäger (2012). Game Theory in Semantics and Pragmatics.
In C. Maienborn, P. Portner and K. von Heusinger (eds.), Semantics. An International Handbook of Natural Language Meaning, Vol. 3. Berlin: de Gruyter.
Link (local copy).

Gerhard Jäger (2003). Simulating language change with Functional OT. In Simon Kirby (ed.), Language Evolution and Computation, Proceedings of the Workshop at ESSLLI, Vienna 2003, pp 52–61.
Download from Gerhard's website, or local copy (password protected).

Gerhard Jäger (2007). Evolutionary Game Theory and Typology: A Case Study. Language 83(1), 74–109.
Download from JSTOR, or local copy (password protected).

OT as a general cognitive architecture; OT beyond linguistics

Tamás Biró and Judit Gervain (2011). Optimality Theory as a General Cognitive Architecture.
Workshop description at the 33rd annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society, July 20, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.
  Download (or local copy).

Steve Parker and Mónica Parker (2004). Optimality Theory and Ethical Decision Making.
Work Papers of the Summer Institute of Linguistics, University of North Dakota Session, vol. 48.
  Download (or local copy).

Tamás Biró (2014). A Biological/Computational Approach to Culture(s) Is Cognitive Science. TopiCS in Cognitive Science 6(1):140–142.
Download: here or here (password protected).

More to come gradually...