What are mental concepts? Why do they work the way they do? How can
they be captured in language? How can they be captured in a
computer? The authors describe the development of, and clearly
explain, the underlying linguistic theory and the working software
they have developed over 40 years to store declarative knowledge in
a computer fully to the same level as language, knowledge
accessible via ordinary conversation. During this 40 year project
there was no epiphany, no "Eureka moment," except perhaps for the
day that their parser program successfully parsed a long sentence
for the first time, taking into account the contribution of every
word and punctuation mark. Their parser software can now parse a
whole paragraph of long sentences each comprising multiple
subordinate clauses with punctuation, to determine the paragraph's
global meaning. Among many practical applications for their
technology is precision communication with the Internet. The
authors show that knowledge stored in language is not unstructured
as is generally assumed. Rather they show that language expressions
are highly structured once the rules of syntax are understood.
Lexical words, grammaticals, punctuation marks, paragraphs and
poetry, single elimination tournaments, "grandmother cells,"
calculator algorithms are just a few of the topics explored in this
smart, witty, and eclectic tour through natural language
understanding by a computer. Illustrated with flow-of-meaning-trees
and easily followed Mensa tables this essay outlines a wide-ranging
theory of language and thought and its transition to computers.
John W. Gorman, a Masters in Engineering from the University of
Auckland, joined his father, John G. Gorman, Lasker Award winning
medical researcher, in their enterprise twenty years ago to solve
the until now intractable problem of computer understanding of
thought and language. An Essay Concerning Computer Understanding
will provoke linguists, neuroscientists, software designers,
advertisers, poets, and the just plain curious. The book suggests
many opportunities for future research in linguistic theory and
cognitive science employing hands on experiments with computer
models of knowledge and the brain. Discover the theory and practice
of computer understanding that has computational linguists
everywhere taking notice.
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