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Mike Dowman

PhD Graduate
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Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Tokyo

Postdoctoral Fellow,
Complex Systems and Artificial Life Lab,
University of Tokyo

My research concerns colour language, syntax, and the cultural evolution of language, and makes connections between all of them. I have used Minimum Description Length (a form of Bayesian inference) to account for the acquisition of syntactic structures in the absence of negative evidence and strong innate biases. I've also modelled the evolution of both colour language and syntax using forms of iterated Bayesian learning. This has led to a new explanation for the typological patterns seen in colour naming, and a better understanding of the phenomenon known as the 'bottleneck effect' in which the transmission of language between speakers via a limited number of example utterances leads to the emergence of regularity.

Since July 2006 I've been a JSPS Postdoctoral Fellow in the Complex Systems and Artificial Life Lab at the University of Tokyo. Between April and June 2006 I was a Postdoctoral Associate in the Computational Cognitive Science Lab of the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. I'm working on language evolution, and acquisition. During 2005 and 2006 I was an Economic and Social Research Council Postdoctoral Fellow in Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh, where I worked in the Language, Evolution and Computation Research Unit on a project called "Understanding Language through Bayesian and Evolutionary Models".