Prof. Lonneke van der Plas – IDIAP

Seminar Series
CIS Network Seminar
Lonneke van der Plas, Computation, Cognition & Language Group, IDIAP
Towards creative systems with linguistic modelling.
Monday, Oct. 09, 2023 3:15 – 4:15pm (CET)
Hybrid or on-site INF 328

This talk is reserved for the EPFL community. Please log in to Zoom with your EPFL credentials. 

Language is predominantly viewed as a means for information exchange in the field of AI and natural language processing (NLP). However, this overlooks the important role language plays as a vehicle for creative thought. This aspect of cognition is unique to mankind, crucial for innovation, and currently under-explored in AI.

The field of NLP has mature methods to capture the meaning of words and the way they relate to each other. However, creative tasks require a high level of generalisation that allows the system to cut across patterns found: across domains, time periods, and perhaps even across different languages. They are therefore a perfect testbed for measuring the generalisation power and actual level of intelligence found in current systems.

In this talk, I will first motivate the need to investigate creative systems. After that, I will showcase two pieces of work. One attempts to model the emergence of new concepts by means of combinations of known concepts in time-stamped corpora, the other pertains to recent work we did on modelling analogical thinking, which is important for creativity.

Lonneke van der Plas is leading the Computation, Cognition & Language group at the Idiap research centre in Martigny. She is also an associate professor in affiliation with the University of Malta where she has been lecturing in language technology since 2014.  Before that, she was a junior professor at the Institute for Natural Language Processing (IMS), University of Stuttgart, where she led a research group in the framework of the SFB 732, a German collaborative research centre at the interface between NLP and linguistics. She holds a M.Phil from the University of Cambridge and a PhD from the University of Groningen. Her research focuses on multilingual approaches, and cognitive aspects of NLP.