Degrees of separation in semantic and syntactic relationships

Matthew A. Kelly, David Reitter, Robert L. West

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Computational models of distributional semantics can analyze a corpus to derive representations of word meanings in terms of each word's relationship to all other words in the corpus. While these models are sensitive to topic (e.g., tiger and stripes) and synonymy (e.g., soar and fly), the models have limited sensitivity to part of speech (e.g., book and shirt are both nouns). By augmenting a holographic model of semantic memory with additional levels of representations, we present evidence that sensitivity to syntax is supported by exploiting associations between words at varying degrees of separation. We find that sensitivity to associations at three degrees of separation reinforces the relationships between words that share part-of-speech and improves the ability of the model to construct grammatical sentences. Our model provides evidence that semantics and syntax exist on a continuum and emerge from a unitary cognitive system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages6
StatePublished - 2017
Event15th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling, ICCM 2017 - Coventry, United Kingdom
Duration: Jul 22 2017Jul 25 2017


Conference15th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling, ICCM 2017
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Modeling and Simulation
  • Artificial Intelligence


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