This work elucidates the structure and complexity of human language in terms of the mathematics of information and computation. It strengthens Chomsky's early work on the mathematics of language, with the advantages of a better understanding of language and a more precise theory of structural complexity.Ristad argues that language is the process of constructing linguistic representations from the forms produced by other cognitive modules and that this process is NP-complete.This NP-completeness is defended with a phalanx of elegant and revealing proofs that rely only on the empirical facts of linguistic knowledge and on the uncontroverted assumption that these facts generalize in a reasonable manner. For this reason, these complexity results apply to all adequate linguistic theories and are the first to do so.Eric Sven Ristad is Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University. He is the coauthor of "Computational Complexity and Natural Language."Contents: Foundation of the Investigation. Anaphora. Ellipsis. Phonology. Syntactic Agreement and Lexical Ambiguity. Philosophical Issues.
Staff at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. Daniel G. Bobrow is a Research Fellow in the Intelligent Systems Laboratory, Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence, and Chair of the Governing Board of the Cognitive Science Society. Michael Brady is Senior Research Scientist at MIT's Artifical Intelligence Laboratory. Patrick H. Winston is Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and Director of the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at MIT.