From: Humanist Discussion Group <willard.mccarty-AT-mccarty.org.uk> To: humanist-AT-lists.digitalhumanities.org Date: Thu, 9 Apr 2009 05:18:59 +0000 (GMT) Subject: [Humanist] 22.678 text-analysis, speculations and newsHumanist Discussion Group, Vol. 22, No. 678. Centre for Computing in the Humanities, King's College London www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist Submit to: humanist-AT-lists.digitalhumanities.org [1] From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty-AT-mccarty.org.uk> (60) Subject: Turing, McCulloch & Pitts, Weaver and text-analysis [2] From: "Ian.Lancashire" <ian.lancashire-AT-utoronto.ca> (23) Subject: Re: [Humanist] 22.676 text-analysis in the news --[1]------------------------------------------------------------------------ Date: Wed, 08 Apr 2009 13:51:22 +0100 From: Willard McCarty <willard.mccarty-AT-mccarty.org.uk> Subject: Turing, McCulloch & Pitts, Weaver and text-analysis In the context of the possibilities for text-analysis, consider the following. 1. In a letter to the editor in the Times Literary Supplement for 4 May 1962, Karen SpĂ¤rk Jones and T. R. McKinnon Wood pointed out that the problems and arguments concerning machine translation can be generalised to "any field which is concerned with handling language". In other words, what has happened in MT should, at least in principle, concern us. 2. In his memorandum of 15 July 1949, "Translation", Warren Weaver wrote the following: > A more general basis for hoping that a computer could be designed which would cope > with a useful part of the problem of translation is to be found in a theorem which was proved > in 1943 by McCulloch and Pitts. This theorem states that a robot (or a computer) constructed > with regenerative loops of a certain formal character is capable of deducing any legitimate > conclusion from a finite set of premises. > Now there are surely alogical elements in language (intuitive sense of style, > emotional content, etc.) so that again one must be pessimistic about the problem of literary > translation. But, insofar as written language is an expression of logical character, this theorem > assures one that the problem is at least formally solvable. In other words, MT links us, "insofar as written language is an expression of logical character", back to the work on the physiology of thought pursued by McCulloch and Pitts by means of networks of idealised neurons. 3. This work on the physiology of thought had a number of sources, but certainly one of them was the Turing Machine, which linked the behaviour of humans and machines. As Tara Abraham puts it, in "(Physio)logical circuits: The intellectual origins of the McCulloch-Pitts neural networks", Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences 38.1 (2002), > Simply put, Turing was able to define the complicated process of > computation in "mechanical" terms, with the notion of a simple > algorithm so exhaustive, rigorous, and unambiguous that the executor > would need no "mathematical knowledge" to carry out its task. Turing > had linked the behavior of humans and machines: in both cases, > "computing numbers" involved a finite number of "states of mind" or > "configurations." These "states of mind," according to Turing, were > irreducible: the "operations" performed by a logic machine or a human > computer can be split up into "simple operations" so elementary they > cannot be further divided. So, we have the human person in one of his or her many roles (here doing calculations) rendered as a machine, which in turn serves in the design of an idealised scheme to explain how humans think. That scheme then contributes to another for rendering the strictly machine-like aspects of a specific expression of thinking in one language into another. And it lives on to teach us about the limits of what we can expect from text-analysis. Or does it -- teach us about limits, that is? Propositional statements are one thing, but when stylometric techniques applied to a literary text demonstrate consistency in the style, say, of Swift, or Poe, or whomever, then is it fair to say that what is found is an "expression of logical character" in that literary language? Is, then, that "logical character" extractable in some way from the statistical patterning of language? I have the sense that I'm going around in circles. Can anyone see around the next bend? Yours, WM -- Willard McCarty, Professor of Humanities Computing, King's College London, staff.cch.kcl.ac.uk/~wmccarty/; Editor, Humanist, www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist; Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, www.isr-journal.org. --[2]------------------------------------------------------------------------ Date: Wed, 08 Apr 2009 12:32:49 -0400 From: "Ian.Lancashire" <ian.lancashire-AT-utoronto.ca> Subject: Re: [Humanist] 22.676 text-analysis in the news In-Reply-To: <20090408082145.B161F2F662-AT-woodward.joyent.us> Thanks to Willard for this note. The Agatha Christie paper and poster were quietly presented at the 19th annual Rotman Institute conference (on cognition and aging) last month. You can find both at http://ftp.cs.toronto.edu/pub/gh/Lancashire+Hirst-extabs-2009.pdf Somehow Anne Kingston found out and wrote a fine article on them in Maclean's Magazine last week at http://www2.macleans.ca/2009/04/02/the-ultimate-whodunit/ which in turn attracted the attention of the Guardian and UPI. The paper argues that my Christie findings confirm Peter Garrard's evidence (in analysing Iris Murdoch's novels) that a sudden decline in vocabulary richness is an early marker of AD. I used Rob Watt's Concordance for vocabulary and indefinite nouns, and TACT (still usable in a virtual OS on my PC) to collect repeating phrases. Graeme and his students are now developing software to analyze for degraded syntactic features. We are fortunate to collaborate with Dr Regina Jokel, a post-doctoral researcher at Baycrest in speech pathology and AD. Anyone interested in this subject should read Peter Garrard's recent paper, "Cognitive Archaeology: Uses, Methods, and Results," in Journal of Neurolinguistics 22.3 (May 2009): 250-65 ... a study of Harold Wilson's contributions to questions period. Garrard also uses Rob Watt's Concordance and John Burrows' delta. Ian Lancashire University of Toronto _______________________________________________ List posts to: humanist-AT-lists.digitalhumanities.org List info and archives at at: http://digitalhumanities.org/humanist Listmember interface at: http://digitalhumanities.org/humanist/Restricted/listmember_interface.php Subscribe at: http://www.digitalhumanities.org/humanist/membership_form.php