SFB 732 Incremental Specification in Context

The collaborative research center (SFB) 732 "Incremental Specification in Context" was established in 2006 as a cooperation between the Institute of Linguistics (Faculty 9) and the Institute of Natural Language Processing (IMS, Faculty 5). The spokesperson is Prof. Dr. Artemis Alexiadou, chair of English linguistics and winner of the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz award 2014. In 2014, the SFB was granted a third funding period until mid-2018. Research at IMS in the areas of computation linguistic and phonetics is decisively involved in the venture with a total of 11 projects.

More information on the project structure can be found on the Websites of the SFB.

The starting point of the interdisciplinary research in SFB 732 is the characteristic feature of human language(s) that many linguistic expressions have multiple meanings. The intended interpretation becomes clear only in a specific usage context. This process is modelled through a process of incremental specification which restricts the space of possible interpretations step by step proceeding through the different linguistic levels.

The SFB brings together a range of research paradigm and methodological approaches that approach the phenomenon of ambiguity from various angles, starting from different theoretical base assumptions and employing experimental methods, corpus linguistic studies and computer simulation. The set of modelling frameworks includes formal linguistic theories of underspecification at the level of phonetics/phonology, lexicon, morphology and syntax, sentence and discourse semantic, as well as exemplar-theoretic approaches which assume a detailed storage of instances of expression in memory. In core computational linguistics, various probabilistic models are used, the parameters of which are estimated with machine learning techniques from large text corpora.

It is in particular this coexistence of alternative modelling approaches which leads to better understanding of the complex interactions among linguistic levels and their implications for algorithmic implementation. Work in the SFB has led to the development of numerous models and tools for applied language technology. Great importance is attached to this technological-infrastructural aspect in the organisation of the collaborative research center, not least by means of a link to the BMBF-funded Stuttgart Resource and Tool-Infrastructure Center at the IMS in the framework of the CLARIN-Initiative.