The Computer Science and Linguistics departments at Stony Brook have been drawn together by a common situation. At present, both departments are pursuing undergraduate science and mathematics projects that involve the creation and development of innovative educational software and curricula.The project emphasizes the experimental nature of computer science and linguistics. It builds on the software developed by the PIs Combinatorica, developed by Steven Skiena, has become the most widely used combinatorial computing environment for research and education. The system is implemented in Mathematica, and comprises over 230 functions for combinatorics and graph theory. In 1991, Combinatorica received an EDUCOM Higher Education Software Award for Distinguished Mathematics Software, and has been used at over 200 educational institutions around the world. Semantica is an interactive workbook for linguistic semantics currently under development by Richard K. Larson (Dept. of Linguistics) and David S. Warren (Dept. of Computer Science), through a three-year grant from the National Science Foundation's Course and Curriculum Development program. Based on a Prolog computing engine, and with extensive visual and natural language support, Semantica will form the basis of an undergraduate course in linguistic semantics.Exposing students to a tool like Combinatorica encourages viewing computer science as an experimental discipline. By observing phenomenon, such as combinatorial explosion, that ?students! ... hear discussed in class, they will gain a deeper appreciation for how the theory arises from practice. Using Syntactica, students will be able to directly create, observe and experiment with the formal rules governing well-formedness of linguistic expressions. The interactive, hands-on manipulation of rule systems will strongly reinforce the experimental nature of the linguistics enterprise, and the scientific chanracter of its results.

National Science Foundation (NSF)
Division of Undergraduate Education (DUE)
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Theodore J. Sjoerdsma
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State University New York Stony Brook
Stony Brook
United States
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