A mathematical model for universal semantics

29 Jul 2019  ·  Weinan E, Yajun Zhou ·

We characterize the meaning of words with language-independent numerical fingerprints, through a mathematical analysis of recurring patterns in texts. Approximating texts by Markov processes on a long-range time scale, we are able to extract topics, discover synonyms, and sketch semantic fields from a particular document of moderate length, without consulting external knowledge-base or thesaurus... Our Markov semantic model allows us to represent each topical concept by a low-dimensional vector, interpretable as algebraic invariants in succinct statistical operations on the document, targeting local environments of individual words. These language-independent semantic representations enable a robot reader to both understand short texts in a given language (automated question-answering) and match medium-length texts across different languages (automated word translation). Our semantic fingerprints quantify local meaning of words in 14 representative languages across 5 major language families, suggesting a universal and cost-effective mechanism by which human languages are processed at the semantic level. Our protocols and source codes are publicly available on https://github.com/yajun-zhou/linguae-naturalis-principia-mathematica read more

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