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Computational Linguistics

Paola Merlo, Editor
December 2016, Vol. 42, No. 4, Pages 619-635
(doi: 10.1162/COLI_a_00261)
© 2017 Association for Computational Linguistics
Formal Distributional Semantics: Introduction to the Special Issue
Article PDF (167.95 KB)

Formal Semantics and Distributional Semantics are two very influential semantic frameworks in Computational Linguistics. Formal Semantics is based on a symbolic tradition and centered around the inferential properties of language. Distributional Semantics is statistical and data-driven, and focuses on aspects of meaning related to descriptive content. The two frameworks are complementary in their strengths, and this has motivated interest in combining them into an overarching semantic framework: a “Formal Distributional Semantics.” Given the fundamentally different natures of the two paradigms, however, building an integrative framework poses significant theoretical and engineering challenges. The present issue of Computational Linguistics advances the state of the art in Formal Distributional Semantics; this introductory article explains the motivation behind it and summarizes the contributions of previous work on the topic, providing the necessary background for the articles that follow.