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LING 364
Introduction to Formal Semantics
Spring 2006

This is an introductory course on natural language semantics.

The course has two goals:
(1) to cover underlying concepts and basic theoretical machinery for natural language semantics, and
(2) to introduce students to the process of formalizing semantic theory using formal logic on a computer.

On the practical side, students will learn to reason with and use deductive systems, and build grammars for computing the "meaning" of fragments of language.

Both classroom lectures and computer laboratory exercises to reinforce the material will be used.


See Lecture 1 notes.


Email List

To be hosted at

The name of the list is LING364@LISTSERV.ARIZONA.EDU


We will use SWI-Prolog (freely available) in the computer laboratory classes.

Instructor: Sandiway Fong
Office (temporary): RM 308 Douglass


Location Communications 214
Time Tuesday-Thursday 3:30-4:45 pm
Computer Laboratory SBS 224
Time Monday-Friday 8 am - 6 pm

Lecture Notes

Available in both Adobe PDF and Microsoft Powerpoint formats.


Date Lecture Notes Number
of Slides
PDF Powerpoint
1/12 lecture1.pdf lecture1.ppt 26 Administrivia and organizational meeting. Reading 1 handed out.
1/17 lecture2.pdf lecture2.ppt 21 Reading 1: Introduction to what is meaning? "The fundamental question". Short quiz 1.
1/19 lecture3.pdf lecture3.ppt 31 Computer laboratory class in SBSRI ICL (Social Sciences 224). Introduction to using SWI-Prolog. Homework 1.
1/24 lecture4.pdf lecture4.ppt 22 Review of Prolog introduction. Demo of simple question answering system we'll be building. Syntax.
1/26 lecture5.pdf lecture5.ppt 34 Formal grammars. Prolog's Definite Clause Grammar (DCG). Chapter 2: Putting a Meaning Together from Pieces. Quiz.
1/31 lecture6.pdf lecture6.ppt 19 Lab Class announcement. Quiz Answers. Compositionality. Idiomatic interpretation. DCG: adding in phrase structure. Adding in semantics.


Date Lecture Notes Number
of Slides
PDF Powerpoint
2/2 lecture7.pdf lecture7.ppt 24 Modifying basic DCG to compute phrase structure and meanings. Extra lab exercise.
2/7 lecture8.pdf lecture8.ppt 22 Homework 1 Review. Chapter 3 Reading handed out. Homework 2.
2/9 lecture9.pdf lecture9.ppt 20 Recursion and grammar rules. Discussion of Chapter 3: More on Predicates. First mention of Lambda Calculus. Quiz 3. Extra lab session for Homework 2 exercises 1 through 3.
2/14 lecture10.pdf lecture10.ppt 14 The Lambda Calculus Lecture. Beta-reduction. Animated examples and comparison with Prolog notation. Homework 2 deadline extended to Thursday.
2/16 lecture11.pdf lecture11.ppt 13 Computer Lab class (SS 224). Homework 2 due at midnight.
2/21 lecture12.pdf lecture12.ppt 13 Homework 2 Review. More lambda calculus. Semantic of Adjectives. Chapter 4: Modifiers.
2/23 lecture13.pdf lecture13.ppt 13 Computer Lab class (SS 224). Homework 3: Meaning grammar and possible worlds, relative clauses and adjectives.
2/28 lecture14.pdf lecture14.ppt 16 Adverbials. Event view and non-event (mapping) view.


Date Lecture Notes Number
of Slides
PDF Powerpoint
3/2 lecture15.pdf lecture15.ppt (None) Computer Lab class: Homework #3 Help.
3/7 lecture16.pdf lecture16.ppt 21 Homework #3 Review. Chapter 5: Complexities of Referring Expressions handout.
3/9 lecture17.pdf lecture17.ppt   Computer Lab class: Chapter 5 Exercises. Quiz 4.
3/14       Spring break: no class.
3/16       Spring break: no class.
3/21 lecture18.pdf lecture18.ppt 22 Quiz 4 Review. Homework 4. Chapter 5: Reference. Plurals.
3/23       No class. Computer Lab is reserved.
3/28 lecture19.pdf lecture19.ppt 15 Chapter 5 continued: Bare plurals. Kinds. Anaphors and Pronouns.
3/30 lecture20.pdf lecture20.ppt 19 (Updated 6pm 3/30) Chapter 6: Quantifiers. Generalized Quantifiers: lambda calculus-style, and set theoretic style. Truth tables. Prolog implementation.


Date Lecture Notes Number
of Slides
PDF Powerpoint
4/4 lecture21.pdf lecture21.ppt 24 Translation of Universally Quantified expressions into Prolog. De Morgan's rule. Negative Polarity Items (NPIs).
4/6 lecture22.pdf lecture22.ppt 22 (Updated 4/6 (9:47pm) Homework 5. Computer Lab Class. Other Generalized Quantifiers.
4/11 lecture23.pdf lecture23.ppt 22 Homework 4 review. Upwards and downwards entailment: every and Negative Polarity Items (NPI).
4/13 lecture24.pdf lecture24.ppt 13 Quiz 5 review. Hints for Homework 5.
4/18 lecture25.pdf lecture25.ppt 21 Homework 5 review. New handout. Tense: Reichenbach's S,E and R. Relations and time intervals. Past tense. Simple present tense.
4/20 lecture26.pdf lecture26.ppt 13 More on tense. Aspectual classification of verbs. Quiz 6.
4/25       Go to ECE lecture. 2:00pm. Student Union: Kiva.
4/27 lecture27.pdf lecture27.ppt 17 Computer lab class (Social Sciences 224). Homework 6: Time and Tense. Inferencing with time intervals. Consistency detection.
Note: Due date is next Tuesday!


Date Lecture Notes Number
of Slides
PDF Powerpoint
5/2 lecture28.pdf lecture28.ppt 26 Grading. Homework 6 Review. Take-home final homework.

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