Computational Semantics

Ling 684.03, Spring '12
TTh 1:30–3:18, Derby 24
Instructor: Michael White


In this course, students will learn how to use Prolog to construct semantic representations for fragments of natural language and perform inference with these representations. Students will also learn about methods for using machine learning to map from sentences to meaning representations and back. At the end of the course, students should be in a good position to appreciate ongoing developments in computational semantics.

The course will be based on two textbooks by Patrick Blackburn & Johan Bos, Representation and Inference for Natural Language: A First Course in Computational Semantics and Working with Discourse Representation Theory: An Advanced Course in Computational Semantics, as well as additional primary readings listed below.


Student in the course will have an opportunity to:


Topics will include:


Ling 684.01 or equivalent. The course is open to advanced undergraduate and graduate students.


Letter grades will be assigned using the standard OSU scale based on class participation and homework assignments.


We'll be using the Carmen system for the schedule and for homework and reading assignments. There will also be discussion forums for posting questions and providing feedback (comments, complaints or ideas) during the course, anonymously if desired.


The first Blackburn & Bos book is out in paperback and available from various booksellers. Their second book is only available in a draft form that is somewhat out-of-date with respect to the accompanying slides. The implementation of van der Sandt's approach to anaphora resolution and presupposition projection is also described in Bos's (2003) article in Computational Linguistics.

There will also be further readings of primary sources assigned periodically, and listed below.

Alternative approaches to semantic construction

Realization with OpenCCG

Learning to interpret natural language database queries




Prolog Help

Software Requirements

Policy on Academic Misconduct

As with any class at this university, students are required to follow the Ohio State Code of Student Conduct. In particular, note that students are not allowed to, among other things, submit plagiarized (copied but unacknowledged) work for credit. If any violation occurs, I am required to report the violation to the Council on Academic Misconduct.

Students with Disabilities

Students who need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me to arrange an appointment as soon as possible to discuss the course format, to anticipate needs, and to explore potential accommodations. I rely on the Office of Disability Services for assistance in verifying the need for accommodations and developing accommodation strategies. Students who have not previously contacted the Office for Disability Services are encouraged to do so (292-3307;


This syllabus is subject to change. All important changes will be made in writing (email), with ample time for adjustment.