Linguistic Analysis

A research journal devoted to the publication of high quality articles in formal phonology, morphology, syntax and semantics. In continuous publication since 1976. ISSN: 0098-9053


Mathematical Foundations for a Compositional Distributional Model of Meaning

We propose a mathematical framework for a unification of the distributional theory of meaning in terms of vector space models, and a compositional theory for grammatical types, for which we rely on the algebra of Pregroups, introduced by Lambek. This mathematical framework enables us to compute the meaning of a well-typed sentence from the meanings of its constituents. Concretely, the type reductions of Pregroups are ‘lifted‘ to morphisms in a category, a procedure that transforms meanings of constituents into a meaning of the (well-typed) whole. Importantly, meanings of whole sentences live in a single space, independent of the grammatical structure of the sentence. Hence the inner-product can be used to compare meanings of arbitrary sentences, as it is for comparing the meanings of words in the distributional model. The mathematical structure we employ admits a purely diagrammatic calculus which exposes how the information flows between the words in a sentence in order to make up the meaning of the whole sentence. A variation of our ‘categorical model’ which involves constraining the scalars of the vector spaces to the semiring of Booleans results in a Montague-style Boolean-valued semantics.