Significance Magazine

Colorless green ideas learn furiously: Chomsky and the two cultures of statistical learning

Journal Article

Language recognition programs use massive databases of words, and statistical correlations between those words, to translate or to recognise speech. But correlation is not causation. Do these statistical data‐dredgings give any insight into how language works? Or are they a mere big‐number trick, useful but adding nothing to understanding? One who holds the latter view is the theorist of language Noam Chomsky. Peter Norvig disagrees.

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