© 2008

Mathematical Linguistics


  • Aims to teach linguistics to the reader but presumes only knowledge of mathematics at the undergraduate level

  • The material was hitherto available only in the research literature

  • Wide applicability in information science (information retrieval, information extraction, search engines) and in natural language technologies (speech recognition, OCR, HCI)


Part of the Advanced Information and Knowledge Processing book series (AI&KP)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. András Kornai
    Pages 1-8
  3. András Kornai
    Pages 9-21
  4. András Kornai
    Pages 23-50
  5. András Kornai
    Pages 51-76
  6. András Kornai
    Pages 77-140
  7. András Kornai
    Pages 141-178
  8. András Kornai
    Pages 179-200
  9. András Kornai
    Pages 201-217
  10. András Kornai
    Pages 219-246
  11. András Kornai
    Pages 247-250
  12. Back Matter
    Pages 251-289

About this book


Mathematical Linguistics introduces the mathematical foundations of linguistics to computer scientists, engineers, and mathematicians interested in natural language processing. The book presents linguistics as a cumulative body of knowledge from the ground up, with no prior knowledge of linguistics being assumed, covering more than the average two-semester introductory course in linguistics.

This comprehensive, reader-friendly volume offers readers a high-level orientation, discussing the foundations of the field and presenting both the classical work and the most recent results. It covers an extremely rich array of topics including not only syntax and semantics but also phonology and morphology, probabilistic approaches, complexity, learnability, and the analysis of speech and handwriting.

As the first text of its kind, this innovative book will be a valuable tool and reference for those in information science (information retrieval and extraction, search engines) and in natural language technologies (speech recognition, optical character recognition, HCI). Exercises suitable for advanced readers are included as well as suggestions for further reading and an extensive bibliography.

"I'm pleased and impressed. The book is very readable, often entertaining---it tells what the issues are, what they are called, in what health they are, where more meat can be found. Given the enormous amount of material and concepts touched on, and the technical difficulties lying under the surface almost everywhere, the book betrays scholarship in a matter-of-fact way, making due impression on, but without clobbering, the reader. This is a book that invites READING THROUGH…".

Professor Tommaso Toffoli, Boston University, USA

"It is a remarkable achievement, essential reading for every linguist who aspires to be well informed about applications of mathematics in the language sciences."

Professor Geoffrey Pullum, University of Edinburgh, UK

"I really liked this book. First, it is written very well and secondly, the author has taken a rather non-standard but very attractive approach to mathematical linguistics. It is very refreshing."

Professor Aravind K. Joshi, University of Pennsylvania, USA


Syntax classification complexity computer hidden markov model human-computer interaction (HCI) information language learning linguistics morphology natural language processing semantics speech processing speech recognition

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.MetaCarta Inc.CambridgeUSA

Bibliographic information

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From the reviews:

"Kornai’s contribution is refreshingly different in that he treats, in this relatively compact volume, practically all areas of linguistics, phonetics, and speech and language processing. … A single entry point to the central methods and concepts of linguistics that are made largely … to the mathematician, computer scientist, or engineer … . the most likely readership of this book consists of (computational) linguists and others who already know the linguistic issues … ." (Richard Sproat and Roxana Gîrju, Computational Lingustics, Vol. 34 (4), 2008)

"This is a remarkable book on the mathematics used for linguistics. … it provides a coherent, well-written view of the math required to model the structure of langiage as used in the main branches of linguistics: phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics. The intended audience is anyone with sufficient general mathematical maturity, such as advanced undergraduate math. … The math is presented well, and the material has a strong narrative flow." (Rohan Baxter, Computing Reviews, March, 2009)

“The book deals … with mathematics inspired by linguistics than with applications of mathematics in linguistics. A large part of the book deals with mathematical models of signal, speech, and handwriting recognition. The book consists of ten chapters. Every chapter contains interesting examples, elegant mathematics and many further reading hints. … The book contains many interesting mathematical models, stimulating examples and elegant proofs, and it is well written.” (Jaroslav Král', Zentralblatt MATH, Vol. 1171, 2009)