Where Does Compositionality Come From?

Mark Steedman

This paper builds on the insights of Lashley and of Miller et al. that action and motor planning mechanisms provide a basis for all serially ordered compositional systems, including language and reasoning. It reinterprets this observation in terms of modern AI formalisms for planning, showing that both the syntactic apparatus that projects lexical meanings onto sentences and the neural mechanisms that are known to be implicated in both language behavior and motor planning reflect exactly the same primitive combinatory operations. The paper then considers some neurocomputational mechanisms that can be applied to modeling this system, and the relation of the compositionality property to such mechanisms.

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