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Will Optimality Theory colonize all of higher cognition?

  • Tamás Biró (a1)

To establish Optimality Theory as a framework in anthropology, or as a general model of higher human cognition, researchers have to demonstrate OT is convincing in a number of ways. This commentary summarizes some of them – based on experience obtained in contemporary linguistic OT – including factorial typologies, exact formulation of candidate sets and constraints, and computational plausibility.

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Biró, T. (2006) Finding the right words: Implementing optimality theory with simulated annealing. PhD thesis. GroDiL 62. Groningen. Available online at: and
Biró, T. (2009) Elephants and optimality again: SA-OT accounts for pronoun resolution in child language. In: Computational linguistics in the Netherlands 2009. LOT Occasional Series 14, ed. Plank, B., Tjong Kim Sang, E. & Van de Cruys, T., pp. 924. Landelijke Onderzoekschool Taalwetenschap.
Biró, T. (in press) Optimal religion. Optimality theory accounts for ritual dynamics. In: Changing minds. Religion and cognition through the ages, ed. Czachesz, I. & Biró, T.. Peeters Publishers.
Jones, D. (2004) The universal psychology of kinship: Evidence from language. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 8(5):211–15.
Smolensky, P. & Legendre, G. (ed.) (2006) The harmonic mind: From neural computation to optimality-theoretic grammar. MIT Press.
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Behavioral and Brain Sciences
  • ISSN: 0140-525X
  • EISSN: 1469-1825
  • URL: /core/journals/behavioral-and-brain-sciences
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