This is a course for advanced undergraduate students and first-year graduate students, which focuses on the computational treatment of core semantic phenomena in language. Topics covered will include a preliminary formal introduction including first-order logic, lambda calculus, and compositionality. Additionally, we will address these topics:

  1. Questions, including the semantics of questions, question-answer systems, dialogue and discourse, selection of variables, inference in language, summarization, entailment issues, and commonsense knowledge;
  2. Meaning Update and Revision, including pragmatics and updates;
  3. Generative Lexicon Theory;
  4. Computational Lexical Semantics, including VerbNet and FrameNet;
  5. Computational Event Theory;
  6. Discourse Representation Theory.

For each core topic, we will initially discuss the relevant facts and approaches from theoretical linguistics, and will then explore the issues which arise for a computational system, including representations and algorithms. Assignments for the course will be done in Haskell.

The lectures and material in this course will be coordinated and integrated with a course taught by Martha Palmer at University of Colorado Boulder, LING 7800/CSCI 7000.


There is one required text for this course. We will be using Jan van Eijck and Christina Unger’s book, Computational Semantics (2010). This book is available in the campus bookstore.

A programming reference for Haskell is Learn You a Haskell for Great Good!. The entire text is available online.

Grading Information

Your grade for this class is based on several problem sets, a project, and class participation. The breakdown is as follows:

Problem Sets (5-6) – 60%
Project – 30%
Class Participation – 10%

Late Policy: Problem sets and projects are due at 11:59pm on the due date unless otherwise stated. For each day your assignment is late, you will lose 5%. No extensions will be granted on the due date without a documented reason.