Assistant Professor, Linguistics; Assistant Professor, Second Language Acquisition / Teaching - GIDP

Robert Henderson

My research focuses on natural language semantics---what words mean and how those meanings are combined to generate meanings for larger expressions, like sentences. I also study natural language pragmatics---how people use context and world knowledge to enrich the literal meanings of utterances. Modern semantics and pragmatics has deep ties to formal logic. This is because to understand these puzzles it is often helpful to treat human languages as if they were formal languages like you might encounter in mathematics or computer science. The way my research unfolds is to design logics (or other formal systems) in which one can define representations and operations over those representations that closely mimic what is observed in human languages.

Recently my work has taken a more computational turn. I am interested in using tools from natural language processing to build and refine theories of natural language processing. I am currently working on a project to model long distance semantic dependencies using LSTMs. I am also working with a student constructing a corpus of child speech involving numerals and quantifiers and their various interpretations.