Paul Van Eecke

Also published as: Paul van Eecke


pdf bib
A Benchmark for Recipe Understanding in Artificial Agents
Jens Nevens | Robin de Haes | Rachel Ringe | Mihai Pomarlan | Robert Porzel | Katrien Beuls | Paul van Eecke
Proceedings of the 2024 Joint International Conference on Computational Linguistics, Language Resources and Evaluation (LREC-COLING 2024)

This paper introduces a novel benchmark that has been designed as a test bed for evaluating whether artificial agents are able to understand how to perform everyday activities, with a focus on the cooking domain. Understanding how to cook recipes is a highly challenging endeavour due to the underspecified and grounded nature of recipe texts, combined with the fact that recipe execution is a knowledge-intensive and precise activity. The benchmark comprises a corpus of recipes, a procedural semantic representation language of cooking actions, qualitative and quantitative kitchen simulators, and a standardised evaluation procedure. Concretely, the benchmark task consists in mapping a recipe formulated in natural language to a set of cooking actions that is precise enough to be executed in the simulated kitchen and yields the desired dish. To overcome the challenges inherent to recipe execution, this mapping process needs to incorporate reasoning over the recipe text, the state of the simulated kitchen environment, common-sense knowledge, knowledge of the cooking domain, and the action space of a virtual or robotic chef. This benchmark thereby addresses the growing interest in human-centric systems that combine natural language processing and situated reasoning to perform everyday activities.


pdf bib
Fluid Construction Grammar: State of the Art and Future Outlook
Katrien Beuls | Paul Van Eecke
Proceedings of the First International Workshop on Construction Grammars and NLP (CxGs+NLP, GURT/SyntaxFest 2023)

Fluid Construction Grammar (FCG) is a computational framework that provides a formalism for representing construction grammars and a processing engine that supports construction-based language comprehension and production. FCG is conceived as a computational operationalisation of the basic tenets of construction grammar. It thereby aims to establish more solid foundations for constructionist theories of language, while expanding their application potential in the fields of artificial intelligence and natural language understanding. This paper aims to provide a brief introduction to the FCG research programme, reflecting on what has been achieved so far and identifying key challenges for the future.

pdf bib
Modelling Language Acquisition through Syntactico-Semantic Pattern Finding
Jonas Doumen | Katrien Beuls | Paul Van Eecke
Findings of the Association for Computational Linguistics: EACL 2023

Usage-based theories of language acquisition have extensively documented the processes by which children acquire language through communicative interaction. Notably, Tomasello (2003) distinguishes two main cognitive capacities that underlie human language acquisition: intention reading and pattern finding. Intention reading is the process by which children try to continuously reconstruct the intended meaning of their interlocutors. Pattern finding refers to the process that allows them to distil linguistic schemata from multiple communicative interactions. Even though the fields of cognitive science and psycholinguistics have studied these processes in depth, no faithful computational operationalisations of these mechanisms through which children learn language exist to date. The research on which we report in this paper aims to fill part of this void by introducing a computational operationalisation of syntactico-semantic pattern finding. Concretely, we present a methodology for learning grammars based on similarities and differences in the form and meaning of linguistic observations alone. Our methodology is able to learn compositional lexical and item-based constructions of variable extent and degree of abstraction, along with a network of emergent syntactic categories. We evaluate our methodology on the CLEVR benchmark dataset and show that the methodology allows for fast, incremental and effective learning. The constructions and categorial network that result from the learning process are fully transparent and bidirectional, facilitating both language comprehension and production. Theoretically, our model provides computational evidence for the learnability of usage-based constructionist theories of language acquisition. Practically, the techniques that we present facilitate the learning of computationally tractable, usage-based construction grammars, which are applicable for natural language understanding and production tasks.

pdf bib
The Candide model: How narratives emerge where observations meet beliefs
Paul Van Eecke | Lara Verheyen | Tom Willaert | Katrien Beuls
Proceedings of the 5th Workshop on Narrative Understanding

This paper presents the Candide model as a computational architecture for modelling human-like, narrative-based language understanding. The model starts from the idea that narratives emerge through the process of interpreting novel linguistic observations, such as utterances, paragraphs and texts, with respect to previously acquired knowledge and beliefs. Narratives are personal, as they are rooted in past experiences, and constitute perspectives on the world that might motivate different interpretations of the same observations. Concretely, the Candide model operationalises this idea by dynamically modelling the belief systems and background knowledge of individual agents, updating these as new linguistic observations come in, and exposing them to a logic reasoning engine that reveals the possible sources of divergent interpretations. Apart from introducing the foundational ideas, we also present a proof-of-concept implementation that demonstrates the approach through a number of illustrative examples.


pdf bib
Language Acquisition through Intention Reading and Pattern Finding
Jens Nevens | Jonas Doumen | Paul Van Eecke | Katrien Beuls
Proceedings of the 29th International Conference on Computational Linguistics

One of AI’s grand challenges consists in the development of autonomous agents with communication systems offering the robustness, flexibility and adaptivity found in human languages. While the processes through which children acquire language are by now relatively well understood, a faithful computational operationalisation of the underlying mechanisms is still lacking. Two main cognitive processes are involved in child language acquisition. First, children need to reconstruct the intended meaning of observed utterances, a process called intention reading. Then, they can gradually abstract away from concrete utterances in a process called pattern finding and acquire productive schemata that generalise over form and meaning. In this paper, we introduce a mechanistic model of the intention reading process and its integration with pattern finding capacities. Concretely, we present an agent-based simulation in which an agent learns a grammar that enables them to ask and answer questions about a scene. This involves the reconstruction of queries that correspond to observed questions based on the answer and scene alone, and the generalization of linguistic schemata based on these reconstructed question-query pairs. The result is a productive grammar which can be used to map between natural language questions and queries without ever having observed the queries.