Will Frager is an undergraduate student at New York University going into his final year for a degree in linguistics. His interests include photography, Haiti, and symbolic logic.
Project: Logical Operators in Common English
In some ways, propositional logic can be thought of as an "ideal" language, where the syntax and semantics of the language are clearly defined and "well understood." For even the longest and most complex expression, there is a computational method for understanding its meaning (i.e. truth conditions). Furthermore, there are straightforward ways of executing meaning-preserving transformations on logical expressions. For example, "(A v B)" means the same thing as "(~A -> B)."
However, the same cannot be said for the natural languages, such as English. There is seemingly no obvious formulaic way to understand the meaning of an English sentence, nor what other English sentences may be equivalent.
In an effort to ultimately make natural languages such as English more easily understood computationally, this project explores a special subset of English sentences: those that meaningfully correspond to some expression of propositional logic, and thus may have some of the "well-understood" properties, such as precise meaning-preserving transformations.
Favorite Three-Color Cellular Automaton