Month: April 2016

The representation of degree in American Sign Language

Jon Gajeweski (UConn)

22 Apr, 2pm, LH 302

In this talk, I will discuss whether and how degree is represented in American Sign Language. I will begin by attempting to place American Sign Language into typologies of comparative constructions that have been based primarily on evidence from spoken languages. Placing ASL in such typologies leads us to the question of the role of iconicity in the representation of degree in ASL and how this relates to constructions in spoken language that may make use of pragmatic resources such as co-speech gesture. The results of the investigation of the comparative are then tested against the existence/structure of related degree constructions including measure phrases, differentials and degree questions.

Alan Turing and the Other Theory of Computation

Lenore Blum (Carnegie Mellon University)


Most logicians and theoretical computer scientists are familiar with Alan Turing’s 1936 seminal paper setting the stage for the foundational (discrete) theory of computation. Most however remain unaware of Turing’s 1948 seminal paper introducing the notion of condition, sets the stage for a natural theory of complexity for the “other theory of computation” emanating from the classical tradition of numerical analysis, equation solving and the continuous mathematics of calculus.
This talk will recognize Alan Turing’s work in the foundations of numerical computation (in particular, his 1948 paper “Rounding-Off Errors in Matrix Processes”), its influence in complexity theory today, and how it provides a unifying concept for the two major traditions of the Theory of Computation.

Stable, fractal-based processing of complex languages

Whit Tabor (UConn)

Apr 15, 2pm, LH 302

Consider an iterated map f on a connected space X. A proper subset, A, of X, is said to be asymptotically stable if, when the system is perturbed slightly away from A, it converges back on to A, under continued iteration of f. When one is working in the realm of logic, or classical computation more broadly, stability is not an issue and does not really make sense. There is no possibility of being slightly off—formulas are either well-formed and have precise meaning, or they are ill-formed and they have no meaning at all. Interestingly, in recent decades, a number of people have discovered ways of doing complex computation on connected spaces. This raises the question of whether there could be “stable computation” in such systems. In this talk, I define asymptotic stability for a particular type of connected space computer and show that at least one interesting class of languages (the mirror recursion languages) has a realization which exhibits asymptotic stability of certain fractal sets. One interesting outcome is an answer to the question: Why is there grammaticality?