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Title: Computational Phonology Part II: Grammars, Learning, and the F
Author(s): Jeffrey Heinz
Journal Title: Language and Linguistics Compass
Volume: 5
Issue: 4
Page Range: 153-168
Publication Date: Apr-2011
Abstract: Computational phonology studies sound patterns in the world's languages from a computational perspective. This article shows that the similarities between different generative theories outweigh the differences, and discusses stochastic grammars and learning models within phonology from a computational perspective. Also, it shows how the hypothesis that all sound patterns are subregular can be investigated, pointing the direction for future research. Taken together, these contributions show computational phonology is identifying stronger and stronger universal properties of phonological patterns, which are reflected in the grammatical formalisms phonologists employ. This article is intended primarily for phonologists who are curious about computational phonology, but do not have a rigorous background in mathematics or computation. However, it is also informative for readers with a background in computation and the basics of phonology, and who are curious about what computational analysis offers phonological theory.

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Review of Heinz Parts I and II   by Jennifer Sullivan , 20-Dec-11
These two articles are geared towards phonologists who want to learn about computational phonology. Heinz uses computational phonology to demonstrate that phonological patterns are regular and to hypothesise that they are subregular. He places computational phonology firmly within the domain of theoretical phonology. He uses computational phonology to attempt to show that different phonological frameworks, especially the Sound Pattern of English (SPE) and Optimality Theory, (OT) in fact have many similarities.

In the first paper, the author discusses set theory and phonological/phonotactic problems related to set theory. He proceeds to discuss algorithms, tractability and determinism. He deals with Formal Language Theory and languages being finite sets of symbols, e.g. IPA. It is worth mentioning of course that some phonologists are moving away from discrete symbolic representations. Heinz moves on to Grammars and the Chomsky Hierarchy. Perhaps he could discuss the relationship between syntax and phonology a bit more here. The author argues on p.147 that "...phonological patterns are almost certainly subregular; that is, they occupy some area strictly smaller than the regular languages." He proceeds to talk about SPE rule ordering, Expressivity and the regularity of SPE rules. The first article ends with treatment of the complexity of the generation problem. It is excellent overall that he has provided several references on computation and on the incorporation of computational theory into linguistics.

The second article shows why different phonological theories are similar to each when approached from the point of view of computation.
The author discusses Two-level Phonology, Declarative Phonology and Underspecification. Then he moves to OT and states that its founders did not assume regularity. He focuses on Riggle (2004) and praises its finding that "the generation problem in OT can be solved using Dijkstra's shortest paths algorithm" (p.157).The author uses the original version of OT (Prince & Smolensky 1993) along with Riggle (2004) mainly in this paper. More recent work on OT makes some major departures from the original version, which are not discussed. The author returns to SPE phonologies and shows how the rules therein may be treated probabilistically. He deals with Learning Phonology and the importance of solving problems. The relationship which the author sees between regular and subregular patterns in phonology is as follows:
"Classifying phonological patterns according to known subregular language classes helps us understand what kind of regular patterns they are." (p.162) He proceeds to identify which phonological patterns he considers to be subregular. The article ends with a re-iteration of the key point that computational phonology can show that diverse phonological theories are at root very similar.

Unfortunately, I found both of these articles very difficult to understand and I think readers with little background in computation may also find them challenging. Some seemingly simple points are explained in a very complex way but other aspects are left vague.We would need many more phonological examples to accompany the terms introduced in these articles in order to understand how they are relevant. I did not feel absolutely convinced that SPE and OT are as close as the author wishes to portray, though this may be my shortcoming.
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