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Seminar: 9/16 - Noah Goodman, Stanford University

11:00 to 12:30 PM      at:  5101 Tolman Hall

The probabilistic language of thought: reasoning with concepts

Logic and probability are key themes of cognitive science that have long had an uneasy coexistence. I will describe the Probabilistic Language of Thought hypothesis, which brings them together into compositional representations with probabilistic meaning. I will make these ideas precise by exploring how this general framework is realized in the probabilistic programming language Church. I will then use Church to investigate human social cognition, as a case study of reasoning with complex concepts. I'll begin with learning from others' goal directed actions. Via work on social goals (such as "helping" and "hindering"), I'll sketch a theory of natural language pragmatics that follows from this formal approach to social cognition and apply this model to explain several experiments on scalar implicature.