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Project writeups and papers from classes (in reverse-chronological order).

A Computational Model of Quantificational Words
My thesis project is a computational model of the meanings and usage of quantificational words (like 'some' and 'all').

Cupcakes versus Muffins
I've had an ongoing argument with some of my friends about whether there's a difference between cupcakes and muffins other than whether they have frosting. For my project in 6.867 (Machine Learning), I decided to investigate this question empirically.

Simulating Language Evolution
A writeup from my project at the Santa Fe Institute, describing a NetLogo model that simulates the creation and evolution of words as agents try to communicate about points in a meaning space.

Semantics of Negation
My project for 6.863 (Natural Language and the Computer Representation of Knowledge) extended a simple natural-language query program to include negation (which is way more complicated than you might think), and other things that make sense, like passives.

Word Categories
This is an informal writeup of a project for 9.66 (Computational Cognitive Science), in which I made a model that tried to infer part-of-speech categories from bigram frequencies. (It didn't really work.)

Strong and Weak Determiners
Semantics is pretty interesting but sometimes you wonder whether people have any idea what's going on. I wrote this paper for 24.970 (Introduction to Semantics).

The Spacing Effect in Inductive Learning
This is my final paper for 9.61 (Lab in Higher Level Cognition), a class in which each student replicates an experiment from an existing paper in cognitive science and then we design and conduct our own extensions. The code package for my experiments can be downloaded here.

Language and Thought
For 9.56 (Abnormal Language), I intended to write my final paper on something to do with how language is related to other aspects of cognition, but no matter what specific issue I tried to think of, they all seemed to depend on the same basic questions, so the paper goes over bits of all of it.

Decision-Making / Rewrite
One of the paper topics for STS.010 (Neuroscience and Society) was "implications of social neuroscience," so I wrote this paper about how people make decisions. Since it's a CI-H class, we're required to do a rewrite; in this paper the first version is more philosophical and the second discusses some practical applications, but the basic idea is the same.

Acquisition of Modal Verbs
This is a paper about the project I was working on in the Wexler Lab, trying to see whether there's a relationship between acquisition of modal verbs and theory of mind. We didn't get definitive results, but the paper has some good background information and descriptions of our experiments.

Choosing Numbers
At the beginning of my high school statistics class, before we really knew much about how to analyze data, we each had to make a survey to practice collecting data from people. Mine involved picking a number from 1 to 10. The writeup is goofy, but the numbers are interesting.

Universal Grammar
In my high school Western Civilizations class, I decided to write my term paper on "universal grammar." I didn't really know what that was - in fact, even now don't have a clear understanding of it - but I reread the paper recently [2009] and discovered that there has been surprisingly little change in my thoughts in four years. It's basically about language and thought.