"Cartesian Computation" shows how Noam Chomsky's principles-and-parameters approach to language can be turned into an effective computer programme for analyzing sentences from languages as different as English and Japanese. In a specially written foreword Chomsky underscores the importance of "Cartesian Computation" in the setting of principles-and-parameters linguistics. In this approach, developed over the past decade, there is in effect only a single human language. "Cartesian Computation" demonstrates that there may be just a single computational engine or parser for analyzing all human languages as well, by resetting just a few switches and supplying new dictionaries for each one. Part 1 introduces the basic operation of the computer programme and the linguistic theory it uses, covering examples from English and Japanese. It describes how abstract linguistic descriptions can be turned into readable computer code and from there compiled into an efficiently executable form. Of particular note for linguists and psychologists, this part also explores several system applications, including how to use the parser as a debugging tool to discover alternatives and potential defects in modern linguistic theories and to develop potentially different processing models for the same or different languages out of the same algorithmic design. Part 2 turns to specific computational design issues, including detailed specifications of the linguistic "compiler", the effects of modularity and the ordering and computational interaction of linguistic principles, the optimization of parsing time without resort to general-purpose theorem proving, and how computational principles of search and control can be imposed on a computational linguistic analysis, all within the framework of logic programming.
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