Evening Lectures

Tuesday, August 6 | 19:00

Kai von Fintel

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

The only connectives

(Joint work with Sabine Iatridou, MIT)

We explore an understudied phenomenon, attested in many languages: the use of exclusives and exceptives as sentential coordinators. Some examples from English:
(1) He is a very nice man, only he talks too much.
(2) I would have helped you, except I had a meeting at work.

We evaluate importing results from the study of adversative coordinators such as English but, French mais, German aber. Questions arise about the relation between the occurrences in (1) and (2) and ordinary uses of exclusives and exceptives as in (3) and (4):
(3) Heather only had one shot on goal.
(4) Every student passed the test except Gordon.

Among other things, we discuss what happens to the focus-sensitivity and the presuppositional asymmetry of ordinary exclusives when they are used as coordinators.

Finally, we turn to cases where these coordinators apply to non-declarative illocutionary forces:
(5) I’m happy to go to Oleana’s for dinner, only where is it?
(6) I hope you enjoy your weekend, except please fix the drain!

Thursday, August 8 | 19:00

Mehrnoosh Sadrzadeh

University College London, UK

Unifying Mathematics for Grammar and Data

Mathematical linguistics reasons about natural language using formal tools. Different approaches model different aspects of language. Some encode the grammar in axiomatic structures; others build vector representations for words using contextual data. Is there a mathematical structure that unifies the two?

Tuesday, August 13 | 19:00

The Richard T. Oehrle Memorial Lecture

Cleo Condoravdi

Stanford University, USA

Imperative Strength

Recent work on the semantics of different sentence types places the
notion of commitment center stage: different sentence types give rise
to a commitment by virtue of their conventionally determined force. In
this talk I will present an analysis of imperatives as creating
preferential commitments, focusing on a certain tension between
properties that require a strong semantics and uses that are
problematic for a strong semantics. On this analysis, the perceived
interpretations of imperatives do not reflect their meaning directly,
rather they arise from inferences about why the speaker would incur
the commitment. I will discuss how this view explains the
communicative equivalence of imperatives with necessity modals in some
uses, and is also consistent with weak uses of imperatives, like
`acquiescence’ and `indifference’ imperatives.

Thursday, August 15 | 19:00

Andris Ambainis

University of Latvia, Latvia

What can we do with a quantum computer?

In the last years, we have seen a substantial progress towards building the first quantum computer. In this talk, I will survey algorithms for quantum computers, from simulating physics to factoring large numbers to speeding up search, with a deeper focus on recent research in two areas: smart quantum search and quantum algorithms for systems of linear equations. I will also discuss the gap between the resources required to run most of the known quantum algorithms and the capacity of the first (NISQ or Noisy Intermediate Scale Quantum) quantum computers and the ongoing work on finding algorithms that could run on NISQ machines.