Distributional Modeling of Entities: The Case for Precision

YEREVAN, Armenia— On March 13, the Zaven & Sonia Akian College of Science and Engineering (CSE) of the American University of Armenia (AUA) organized a lecture with Dr. Sebastian Pado, professor of computational linguistics who discussed entities in contrast to concepts.

According to the speaker, distributional methods are very good for capturing the fuzzy, graded meaning of concepts, however, comparatively little attention has been paid to entities, which presumably call for more precise representation. Dr. Pado referred to Mozart as an example of an entity. He noted that the entity is ontologically distinct in its meaning from a composer, which is a concept. Additionally, in his remarks, Dr. Pado explored two studies where distributional models were used to represent the named entities. The speaker drew special attention to improving the audience’s understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of studies presented. In the first study, fine-grained attributes of concepts typically found in structured knowledge bases were targeted. In the second study, researchers contrasted the hypernym relation between two concepts of physicist — scientist with the instantiation relation between an entity and a concept such as Mozart — composer. The research concluded that entities are in principle amenable to the same distributional techniques applied to concepts, but do not always behave in parallel.

Dr. Sebastian Pado is a professor of Computational Linguistics at Stuttgart University, Germany. He studied in Saarbrücken and Edinburgh, receiving his MS in Cognitive Science in 2002 and PhD in 2007 in the field of Computational Linguistics. After a postdoctoral position at Stanford, he taught Computational Linguistics at Heidelberg University in 2010. His core research concerns methods of learning, representing, and processing aspects of natural language meaning from and within the text.

Founded in 1991, the American University of Armenia (AUA) is a private, independent university located in Yerevan, Armenia and affiliated with the University of California. AUA provides a global education in Armenia and the region, offering high-quality, graduate and undergraduate studies, encouraging civic engagement, and promoting public service and democratic values.