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Associate Professor Ali Knott

Ali_226

Owheo Building, Room 2.54
Phone: +64 3 479 8299
Email:alik@cs.otago.ac.nz

My background is in Cognitive Science and Artificial Intelligence. I studied Psychology and Philosophy at Oxford University, and then did an MSc and PhD in Artificial Intelligence at the University of Edinburgh, and a postdoc at Edinburgh in Computational Linguistics. I've been at Otago since 1998.

My research focusses on how the capacity for language is implemented in the human brain. I explore this question by building computational models of language and other cognitive processes: in the last few years, mostly neural network models. My main interest at present is in how language interfaces with the physical world: how are sensory and motor representations translated into linguistic representations? I have developed a proposal about how this happens, which was the subject of a recent book, and currently forms the basis for a Marsden Project.

There's more information about this and other projects on my research page.

Selected Publications

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Publications

Takac, M., Knott, A., & Stokes, S. (2017). What can neighbourhood density effects tell us about word learning? Insights from a connectionist model of vocabulary development. Journal of Child Language, 44(2), 346-379. doi: 10.1017/s0305000916000052

Gorman, C., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2017). Hopfield networks as a model of of prototype-based category learning: A method to distinguish trained, spurious, and prototypical attractors. Neural Networks, 91, 76-84. doi: 10.1016/j.neunet.2017.04.007

Slack, D., McCane, B., & Knott, A. (2017). Self-organising temporal pooling. Proceedings of the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN). (pp. 4316-4323). IEEE. doi: 10.1109/IJCNN.2017.7966402

Knott, A., & Takac, M. (2017). A sensorimotor interpretation of Logical Form, and its application in a model of Māori sentences [Wellington Working Papers in Linguistics Vol. 23: Linguistic travels in time and space: Festschrift for Liz Pearce]. In H. Quinn, D. Massam & L. Matthewson (Eds.) (pp. 101-114). Wellington, New Zealand: Victoria University of Wellington. [Report Contribution].

Takac, M., & Knott, A. (2016). A simulationist model of episode representations in working memory [Technical Report OUCS-2016-01]. Dunedin, New Zealand: Department of Computer Science, University of Otago. 51p.

Authored Book - Research

Knott, A. (2012). Sensorimotor cognition and natural language syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 392p.

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Chapter in Book - Research

Knott, A. (2014). Neurocomputational models of natural language. In N. K. Kasabov (Ed.), Springer handbook of bio-/neuro-informatics. (pp. 835-861). Dordrecht, The Netherlands: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-30574-0_48

Knott, A. (2014). How infants learn word meanings and propositional attitudes: A neural network model. In T.-W. Hung (Ed.), Communicative action: Selected Papers of the 2013 IEAS Conference on Language and Action. (pp. 107-124). Springer.

Knott, A. (2001). Semantic and pragmatic relations and their intended effects. In T. Sanders, J. Schilperoord & W. Spooren (Eds.), Text Representation: Linguistic and Psycholinguistic Aspects. (pp. 127-152). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Knott, A., Oberlander, J., O'Donnell, M. A., & Mellish, C. (2001). Beyond elaboration: The interaction of relations and focus in coherent text. In T. Sanders, J. Schilperoord & W. Spooren (Eds.), Text Representation: Linguistic and Psycholinguistic Aspects. (pp. 181-196). Amsterdam: Benjamins.

Webber, B., Knott, A., & Joshi, A. (2000). Multiple discourse connectives in a lexicalized grammar for discourse. In H. Bunt, R. Muskens & E. Thijsse (Eds.), Computing Meaning (Volume 2). (pp. 229-245). Tilburg, The Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers.

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Journal - Research Article

Takac, M., Knott, A., & Stokes, S. (2017). What can neighbourhood density effects tell us about word learning? Insights from a connectionist model of vocabulary development. Journal of Child Language, 44(2), 346-379. doi: 10.1017/s0305000916000052

Gorman, C., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2017). Hopfield networks as a model of of prototype-based category learning: A method to distinguish trained, spurious, and prototypical attractors. Neural Networks, 91, 76-84. doi: 10.1016/j.neunet.2017.04.007

Lee-Hand, J., & Knott, A. (2015). A neural network model of causative actions. Frontiers in Neurorobotics, 9, 4. doi: 10.3389/fnbot.2015.00004

Guise, M., Knott, A., & Benuskova, L. (2015). Enhanced polychronization in a spiking network with metaplasticity. Frontiers in Computational Neuroscience, 9, 9. doi: 10.3389/fncom.2015.00009

Takac, M., & Knott, A. (2015). A neural network model of episode representations in working memory. Cognitive Computation, 7(5), 509-525. doi: 10.1007/s12559-015-9330-3

Knott, A. (2014). Syntactic structures as descriptions of sensorimotor processes. Biolinguistics, 8, 327. Retrieved from http://www.biolinguistics.eu/index.php/biolinguistics/article/view/327

Walles, H., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2014). A perceptually grounded model of the singular–plural distinction. Language & Cognition, 6(3), 327-369. doi: 10.1017/langcog.2014.9

Guise, M., Knott, A., & Benuskova, L. (2014). A Bayesian model of polychronicity. Neural Computation, 26(9), 2052-2073. doi: 10.1162/NECO_a_00620

Takac, M., Benuskova, L., & Knott, A. (2012). Mapping sensorimotor sequences to word sequences: A connectionist model of language acquisition and sentence generation. Cognition, 125(2), 288-308. doi: 10.1016/j.cognition.2012.06.006

Caza, G. A., & Knott, A. (2012). Pragmatic bootstrapping: A neural network model of vocabulary acquisition. Language Learning & Development, 8(2), 113-135. doi: 10.1080/15475441.2011.581144

Webb, A., Knott, A., & MacAskill, M. R. (2010). Eye movements during transitive action observation have sequential structure. Acta Psychologica, 133, 51-56. doi: 10.1016/j.actpsy.2009.09.001

Vlugter, P., Knott, A., McDonald, J., & Hall, C. (2009). Dialogue-based call: A case study on teaching pronouns. Computer Assisted Language Learning, 22(2), 115-131. doi: 10.1080/09588220902778260

Walles, H., Knott, A., & Robins, A. (2008). A model of cardinality blindness in inferotemporal cortex. Biological Cybernetics, 98(5), 427-437.

Knott, A., & Vlugter, P. (2008). Multi-agent human-machine dialogue: Issues in dialogue management and referring expression semantics. Artificial Intelligence, 172(2-3), 69-102.

Earnshaw, L., Fleming, S., Weatherall, V., & Knott, A. (2004). Analysis of errors in the writing of first year university students of Maori. He Puna Korero, 5(2), 31-47.

Webber, B., Stone, M., Joshi, A., & Knott, A. (2003). Anaphora and discourse structure. Computational Linguistics, 29(4), 545-587.

Knott, A. (2003). Do sensorimotor processes have reflexes in sentence syntax as well as sentence semantics? Behavioral & Brain Sciences, 26(3), 294-295.

O'Donnell, M., Mellish, C., Oberlander, J., & Knott, A. (2001). ILEX: An architecture for a dynamic hypertext generation system. Natural Language Engineering, 7(3), 225-250. doi: 10.1017/S1351324901002698

Knott, A., Sanders, T., & Oberlander, J. (2001). Levels of representation in discourse relations. Cognitive Linguistics, 12(3), 197-209.

Stevenson, R., Knott, A., Oberlander, J., & McDonald, S. (2000). Interpreting pronouns and connectives: Interactions among focusing, thematic roles and coherence relations. Language & Cognitive Processes, 15(3), 225-262.

Knott, A. (2000). An algorithmic framework for specifying the semantics of discourse relations. Computational Intelligence, 16, 501-510.

Dale, R., Oberlander, J., Milosavljevic, M., & Knott, A. (1998). Integrating natural language generation and hypertext to produce dynamic documents. Interacting with Computers, 11(2), 109-135.

Knott, A., & Sanders, T. (1998). The Classification of Coherence Relations and their Linguistic Markers: An Exploration of Two Languages. Journal of Pragmatics, 30.

Oberlander, J., O'Donnell, M., Mellish, C., & Knott, A. (1998). Conversation in the museum: Experiments in dynamic hypermedia with the intelligent labelling explorer. New Review of Hypermedia & Multimedia, 4, 11-32.

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Journal - Research Other

Knott, A. (2007). [Review of the book Coherence in Natural Language: Data Structures and Applications]. Computational Linguistics, 33(4), 591-595.

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Conference Contribution - Published proceedings: Full paper

Slack, D., McCane, B., & Knott, A. (2017). Self-organising temporal pooling. Proceedings of the International Joint Conference on Neural Networks (IJCNN). (pp. 4316-4323). IEEE. doi: 10.1109/IJCNN.2017.7966402

Julé, A., McCane, B., Knott, A., & Mills, S. (2015). Discriminative touch from pressure sensors. In D. Bailey, G. Sen Gupta & S. Demidenko (Eds.), Proceedings of the 6th International Conference on Automation, Robotics and Applications (ICARA). (pp. 279-282). IEEE. doi: 10.1109/icara.2015.7081160

Azmi, N. Z., Wyvill, G., & Knott, A. (2014). Adapting a cheap game controller as a natural 3D input. Proceedings of the 7th International Conference on Human System Interactions (HSI). (pp. 32-37). IEEE. doi: 10.1109/HSI .2014.6860444

McDonald, J., Knott, A., Stein, S., & Zeng, R. (2013). An empirically-based, tutorial dialogue system: design, implementation and evaluation in a first year health sciences course. In H. Carter, M. Gosper & J. Hedberg (Eds.), Proceedings of the Australasian Society for Computers in Learning in Tertiary Education (ascilite) Conference: Electric Dreams. (pp. 562-572). ascilite. [Full Paper]

Takac, M., & Knott, A. (2013). A neural network model of working memory for episodes. In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci): Cooperative Minds: Social Interaction and Group Dynamics. (pp. 1432-1437). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [Full Paper]

Walles, H., Robins, A., & Knott, A. (2013). A neural network model of visual attention and group classification, and its performance in a visual search task. In S. Cranefield & A. Nayak (Eds.), Advances in Artificial Intelligence: Lecture notes in artificial intelligence (Vol. 8272). (pp. 98-103). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-03680-9_11

Guise, M., Knott, A., & Benuskova, L. (2013). Evidence for response consistency supports polychronous neural groups as an underlying mechanism for representation and memory. In S. Cranefield & A. Nayak (Eds.), Advances in artificial intelligence: Lecture notes in artificial intelligence (Vol. 8272). (pp. 86-97). Heidelberg, Germany: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-319-03680-9_10

Lee-Hand, J., & Knott, A. (2013). Learning and representation of causative motor actions: A neural network model and its use in an embodied theory of language. In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci): Cooperative Minds: Social Interaction and Group Dynamics. (pp. 2849-2854). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. [Full Paper]

Knott, A. (2012). Chomskyan minimalism as a vehicle for embodied models of language. Proceedings of the Embodied and Situated Language Processing (ESLP) Conference. Retrieved from http://eslp.cocolab.org/

Lee-Hand, J., Neumegen, T., & Knott, A. (2012). Representing reach-to-grasp trajectories using perturbed goal motor states. In P. Anthony, M. Ishizuka & D. Lukose (Eds.), Trends in artificial intelligence: Lecture notes in artificial intelligence (Vol. 7458). (pp. 250-261). Heidelberg, Germany: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-32695-0_24

McDonald, J., Knott, A., & Zeng, R. (2012). Free-text input vs menu selection: Exploring the difference with a tutorial dialogue system. In P. Cook & S. Nowson (Eds.), Proceedings of the Australasian Language Technology Association (ALTA) Workshop. 10, (pp. 97-105). [Full Paper]

Knott, A. (2011). Chomsky and embodied cognition: A sensorimotor interpretation of Minimalist logical form. In L. Carlson, C. Hoelscher & T. F. Shipley (Eds.), Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society: Expanding the space of cognitive science. (pp. 2621-2626). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society. Retrieved from http://cognitivesciencesociety.org/conference2011/index.html

McDonald, J., Knott, A., Zeng, R., & Cohen, A. (2011). Learning from student responses: A domain-independent natural language tutor. In D. Mollá & D. Martinez (Eds.), Proceedings of the Australian Language Technology Association (ALTA) Workshop. 9, (pp. 148-156). [Full Paper]

Takac, M., Benuskova, L., & Knott, A. (2011). A sentence generation network that learns surface and abstract syntactic structures. In T. Honkela, W. Duch, M. Girolami & S. Kaski (Eds.), Artificial neural networks and machine learning: Lecture notes in computer science (Vol. 6792). (pp. 341-348). Berlin, Germany: Springer. doi: 10.1007/978-3-642-21738-8_44

Alexander, D., Trotman, A., & Knott, A. (2011). Click log based evaluation of link discovery. In S. J. Cunningham, F. Scholer & P. Thomas (Eds.), Proceedings of the Sixteenth Australasian Document Computing Symposium. (pp. 55-62). Melbourne, Australia: RMIT University. [Full Paper]

Knott, A. (2010). A sensorimotor characterisation of syntax, and its implications for models of language evolution. In A. D. M. Smith, M. Schouwstra, B. de Boer & K. Smith (Eds.), The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 8th International Conference (EVOLANG8). (pp. 214-221). World Scientific Books. [Full Paper]

Vlugter, P., van der Ham, E., & Knott, A. (2006). Error correction using utterance disambiguation techniques. In L. Cavedon & I. Zukerman (Eds.), Proceedings of the Australasian Language Technology Workshop. (pp. 123-130). Carlton, Australia: Australian Language Technology Association. [Full Paper]

Vlugter, P., & Knott, A. (2006). A multi-speaker dialogue system for computer-aided language learning. Proceedings of the 10th Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue. (pp. 18-25). Potsdam, Germany: Universität Potsdam. [Full Paper]

Slabbers, N., & Knott, A. (2005). A system for generating teaching initiatives in a computer-aided language learning dialogue. In C. Gardent & B. Gaiffe (Eds.), Proceedings of the Ninth Workshop on the Semantics and Pragmatics of Dialogue. (pp. 13-20). [Full Paper]

More publications...