Ling 236: Quantitative, Probabilistic, and Optimization-Based Explanation in Linguistics
Handout #1: Winter 2002 General Information

Course Information

Lecture: 1-4 units, W 2:15-5:05 Art 4 . [My understanding is that this is a funky room in the basement of the Cummings Art building. We'll see how it works out.]

Useful Information and Handouts

Course Description

This course will be a combined tutorial and seminar on the soft constraints inherent in linguistic systems.  It will attempt to justify that there are such constraints, and to examine how they can be modeled, based on quantitative evidence obtained from linguistic corpora or experiments. The course will focus on syntax, and the aim is to build models that achieve linguistic explanation. (Contrary to the catalog description) I’ve decided not to cover collecting data. It is assumed that you have or can get some raw data to work with. If you think you need more skills in collecting data, you should consider another course that covers this, such as Ling 121, Ling 237, Ling 258, Ling 286, Psych 214, etc. Some of these are on this quarter. However, the tutorial part is that I do intend to present and teach methods for statistical data analysis and for building probability models of language. Since this is the kind of material that I think people don’t learn without using it, there will be small weekly assignments. The seminar part will be reading and discussion of recent and older papers that develop quantitative approaches to language, and the presentation and development of ideas for probabilistic models of language.

Course Objective

For students to be able to understand and build probabilistic models of linguistic phenomena.

Contact Info        

Christopher Manning
Office: Gates Bldg. Room 418
Office Hours: TBA

Phone: (650) 723-7683
Fax: (650) 725-2588



Intended Audience

Graduate students and advanced undergraduates specializing in linguistics or symbolic systems.


Reading and Work


If you’d like to get a head start on things it’d be good to know about in this course, here are the recommendations:


There is no required text.  Readings and handouts will be distributed. Copies of materials available electronically will be posted here, and hard copies will be distributed in class.

Work and Grading

The course work will be:

The other expectation is participation in class presentations and discussion.