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[GiF] Complete definitions: graphing how words and definitions connect

Posted 3 years ago


Dorner Prize from RISD Museum (Rhode Island School of Design)



MODERATOR NOTE: a submission to computations art contest, see more:

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POSTED BY: Jack Madden
6 Replies

Very cool. It made met think of this attempt to make a multi-layered non-circular dictionary where everything is defined down to just 60 or so words called "semantic primes". It makes me wonder what your project would look like based on that dictionary?

POSTED BY: Eric Parfitt

Very beautiful and meaningful work -- congratulations on the prize! You might want to check out some research done about this, including circular definitions. For instance:

ABSTRACT: "Dictionaries link a given word to a set of alternative words (the definition) which in turn point to further descendants. Iterating through definitions in this way, one typically finds that definitions loop back upon themselves. We demonstrate that such definitional loops are created in order to introduce new concepts into a language. In contrast to the expectations for a random lexical network, in graphs of the dictionary, meaningful loops are quite short, although they are often linked to form larger, strongly connected components. These components are found to represent distinct semantic ideas. This observation can be quantified by a singular value decomposition, which uncovers a set of conceptual relationships arising in the global structure of the dictionary. Finally, we use etymological data to show that elements of loops tend to be added to the English lexicon simultaneously and incorporate our results into a simple model for language evolution that falls within the “rich-get-richer” class of network growth."

POSTED BY: Vitaliy Kaurov

Great references, thank you! Good to see they found a core size on the same order I did. I'll look into the differences.

POSTED BY: Jack Madden

Great work Jack! This is a fascinating topic and one I have been interested in years as a way of unambiguously representing language; allowing functions like negation and tenses permits a word count <600 words. I look forward to seeing more of your work, bravo!

EDIT: this permits some rather interesting questions, like: is there a minimum set of ideas? Like the 'periodic table of ideas'? What idea-molecules can be created now that the elements have been isolated?

Thanks Robert!

Interesting questions to think about. Getting to philosophy and six degrees of wikipedia come to mind but also the 20 questions game. I wonder if you could come up with a large but finite list of questions that, if you picked 20 of them, could point you to any person, place, thing, or concept. 20 questions sites like Akinator might keep a record of what questions get asked and how often new ones are needed. The subjectivity of language makes this kind of research very slippery though. I wasn't familiar with the basic research being done in the field of knowledge engineering before this project but it was relevant. Maybe there is some work on idea sets there.

POSTED BY: Jack Madden

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