Technical Reports (CIS)

Document Type

Technical Report

Date of this Version

July 1988


University of Pennsylvania Department of Computer and Information Science Technical Report No. MS-CIS-88-50.


We propose to apply a complexity theoretic notion of feasible learnability called "polynomial learnability" to the evaluation of grammatical formalisms for linguistic description. Polynomial learnability was originally defined by Valiant in the context of boolean concept learning and subsequently generalized by Blumer et al. to infinitary domains. We give a clear, intuitive exposition of this notion of learnability and what characteristics of a collection of languages may or may not help feasible learnability under this paradigm. In particular, we present a novel, nontrivial constraint on the degree of "locality" of grammars which allows a rich class of mildly context sensitive languages to be feasibly learnable. We discuss possible implications of this observation to the theory of natural language acquisition.



Date Posted: 30 October 2007