Graduate School of Language Technology in Finland

Kieliteknologian valtakunnallinen tutkijakoulu - Språkteknologiska forskarskolan i Finland

A multi-agent approach to language acquisition, language grounding and language evolution


Paul Vogt (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)


Unversity of Helsinki, Department of General Linguistics, Siltavuorenpenger 20A, Helsinki. Seminar room 303 and the unix-lab are on the 3rd floor.


5 - 9 May 2008. Morning sessions 10-12.30 at seminar room 303, afternoon sessions 13.30-15 in the unix-lab

ECTS credits


Course description

Computational modelling of language evolution has become very popular field of study in the past decade. Central to this field is to study how human language could have evolved. One common methodology within this field is to use multi-agent models in which individual agents can invent, learn and communicate parts of the language. One crucial element in such models is how agents can learn the language. This course aims to get the participants familiar with multi-agent approaches to language evolution, where the focus is on language acquisition (i.e. how individual agents acquire the language from others) and on language grounding (i.e. how the meaning of language can be grounded in the agents’ world). Both aspects will be discussed in relation to constructing word-meaning mappings and compositional structures. In addition, time is spent on how to do principled experiments relevant for the study of human language evolution and language acquisition, together with a number of case studies.

Practical work

During the practical work, students can work (in groups) to re-implement some of the models discussed (or use an existing implementation) to experiment some interesting aspect(s) of language evolution, language grounding and/or language acquisition.


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Required (to be read in advance):



No formal prerequisites but the number of students is limited. The criteria for acceptance is a) completion of the previous NGSLT courses b) students who have not participated in NGSLT courses have priority.

Course application form

Course application through NGSLT, see Activities on


hanna.westerlund (at)

Information for participants from abroad

Hotel rooms will be reserved by the organisers. The organisers will send more information about accomodation to all participants before the course begins.

Travel arrangements (flights) will be taken care of by Area as usual. This applies to all NGSLT students from all countries.see Reimbursement on

If you need a visa, contact amanuensis Johanna Ratia by email to johanna.ratia (at) as soon as you receive a confirmation of acceptance to the course from NGSLT.


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