© 2016

Creativity and Universality in Language

  • Mirko Degli Esposti
  • Eduardo G. Altmann
  • François Pachet


  • Presents a unified approach to creativity by bridging computer science, linguistic and mathematical physics

  • Provides a unique and novel perspective

  • Written by experts in the field


Part of the Lecture Notes in Morphogenesis book series (LECTMORPH)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xii
  2. Mirko Degli Esposti, Eduardo G. Altmann, François Pachet
    Pages 1-6
  3. Eduardo G. Altmann, Martin Gerlach
    Pages 7-26
  4. Marcelo A. Montemurro, Damián H. Zanette
    Pages 27-41
  5. Richard A. Blythe
    Pages 43-57
  6. Vittorio Loreto, Vito D. P. Servedio, Steven H. Strogatz, Francesca Tria
    Pages 59-83
  7. Alexandre Papadopoulos, François Pachet, Pierre Roy
    Pages 85-103
  8. Cyril Labbé, Dominique Labbé, François Portet
    Pages 123-141
  9. Efstathios Stamatatos
    Pages 143-155
  10. Paolo Rosso, Delia Irazú Hernández Farías, Francisco Rangel
    Pages 177-186
  11. Luc Steels
    Pages 197-208

About this book


This book collects research contributions concerning quantitative approaches to characterize originality and universality in language. The target audience comprises researchers and experts in the field but the book may also be beneficial for graduate students.

Creativity might be considered as a morphogenetic process combining universal features with originality. While quantitative methods applied to text and music reveal universal features of language and music, originality is a highly appreciated feature of authors, composers, and performers.

In this framework, the different methods of traditional problems of authorship attribution and document classification provide important insights on how to quantify the unique features of authors, composers, and styles. Such unique features contrast, and are restricted by, universal signatures, such as scaling laws in word-frequency distribution, entropy measures, long-range correlations, among others. This interplay between innovation and universality is also an essential ingredient of methods for automatic text generation.

Innovation in language becomes relevant when it is imitated and spread to other speakers and musicians. Modern digital databases provide new opportunities to characterize and model the creation and evolution of linguistic innovations on historical time scales, a particularly important example of the more general problem of spreading of innovations in complex social systems.

This multidisciplinary book combines scientists from various different backgrounds interested in quantitative analysis of variations (synchronic and diachronic) in language and music. The aim is to obtain a deeper understanding of how originality emerges, can be quantified, and propagates.


Creativity in Language and Music Language Evolution Mathematical Models of Textual Data Synchronic and Diachronic Variations in Language Universal Laws

Editors and affiliations

  • Mirko Degli Esposti
    • 1
  • Eduardo G. Altmann
    • 2
  • François Pachet
    • 3
  1. 1.Dipartimento di MatematicaUniversità di BolognaBolognaItaly
  2. 2.the Physics of Complex SystemsMax Planck Institute forDresdenGermany
  3. 3.Sony Computer Science LaboratoryParisFrance

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors
IT & Software


“The volume as a whole gives a richly detailed overview of the long-term, flourishing research on the mathematical statistical approach to properties of written natural language. The chapters and the references provide details of this inventive investigation of the inherent and variable properties of natural language.” (Alice Davison, Computing Reviews,, October, 2016)