Giorgio Magri


Curriculum vitae

I have a degree in philosophy and one in mathematics, both from the University of Milano. I have a PhD in linguistics from MIT. I am a permanent researcher at the French CNRS. I organize the Paris seminar in computation and linguistic theory

Contact information

12bis rue des Fosses Saint Marcel, 
75005 Paris, France

SFL UMR 7023, 
CNRS and University of Paris 8


The core assumption of my research is that the systems of sounds (phonologies) used by natural languages have a rich and specific formal structure that admits an elegant and sophisticated mathematical description and supports simple, exact, and efficient algorithms for language learnability (as well as language production and perception/interpretation). My research explores this conjecture by developing the formal theory of of phonological universals. Candidate universals are not phonetic statements about extensional languages but formal generalizations about the grammars that generate those languages. Besides sheer phonetics, principles of combinatorial simplicity, computational limitations, and algorithmic bottlenecks provide heuristic principles to discover such typological generalizations. The algorithmic implications of the resulting universal principles are carefully distilled. And their typological predictions are tested on typological surveys as well as through psycholinguistic experimentation.

Here are some of the specific questions that I have focused on so far: what are the learnability implications of different modes of constraint interaction in constraint-based phonology? What are the universal principles of feature interaction in segmental phonology? Can we reduce the many differences between competing frameworks for probabilistic phonology to a few basic axioms? What are the universals of phonological organization predicted by these probabilistic frameworks?  

Current teaching 

  Computational Phonology
one semester course offered every year in the fall semester within the master program Cursus de Linguistique Informatique of the University of Paris Diderot (class website of current installment available here)

  A short introduction to (probabilistic) constraint-based phonology
one week mini-course at the Winter school on learnability, Department of Linguistics, Tel Aviv University 
(handouts available here: class 1, class 2, class 3, and class 4)

  Learnability of syntax
research seminar co-taught with Carlo Cecchetto and Caterina Donati in the spring semester. Topics change every year. Topics for this year will be announced soon.

Papers, software, and manuscripts 

Abstracts, papers, chapters, and other documents are posted on this site as an efficient way to distribute reprints. The respective authors and publishers of these works retain all of the copyrights to this material. Anyone copying, downloading, bookmarking, or printing any of these materials agrees to comply with all of the copyright terms. Other than having an electronic or printed copy for fair personal use, none of these works may be reposted, reprinted, or redistributed without the explicit permission of the relevant copyright holders. 

     Convex Geometry Tools for typological and learnability analysis in categorical and probabilistic constraint-based phonology.
Online software. Joint work with 
Arto Anttila

 — A principled derivation of Harmonic Grammar.
In SCiL 2020:  Proceedings of the third meeting of the Society for Computation in LinguisticsAllyson Ettinger; Gaja Jarosz; and Max Nelson; Association for Computational Linguistics.

    Constraint summation.
Joint work with Benjamin StormeIn AMP2019: Proceedings of the 2019 Annual Meeting on Phonology; Hyunah Baek, Chikako Takahashi, and Alex Hong-Lun Yeung (eds.); Linguistic Society of America.

      Equiprobable mappings in weighted constraint grammars.
Joint work with Arto Anttila and Scott Borgeson. In SIGMORPHON 2019: Proceedings of the 16th SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology. Selected as best paper for SIGMORPHON 2019.

    Implicational universals in stochastic constraint-based phonology.
In EMNLP 2018: Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing.

    Efficient computation of implicational universals in constraint-based phonology through the Hyperplane Separation Theorem.
In SIGMORPHON 2018: Proceedings of the 15th SIGMORPHON Workshop on Computational Research in Phonetics, Phonology, and Morphology.
     Constraint summation in phonological theory. 
Joint work with Benjamin Storme. To appear in the Journal of Language Modeling.

  Does MaxEnt overgenerate? Implicational universals in Maximum Entropy grammar
Joint work with Arto Anttila. In AMP 2017: Proceedings of the 2017 Annual Meeting on Phonology; Gillian Gallagher, Maria Gouskova, and Yin Sora (eds.); Linguistic Society of America.

   Statistical learning theory and linguistic typology: a learnability perspective on OT’s strict domination.
Joint work with Emile Enguehard (first author) and Edward Flemming. In SCiL 1: Proceedings of the first annual meeting of the Society for Computation in Linguistics; Gaja Jarosz, Brendan O'Connor, and Joe Pater (eds.); Association for Computational Linguistics.

    Learnability to the rescue of the quest for phonological universals.
Position statement for the Crecchio Workshop on Language Universals organized by Roberta d'Alessandro, June 8-11 2017.
    A note on phonological similarity in Tesar's (2014) theory of output-drivenness.
In Journal of Logic and Computation, 28.6: 1243-1274; 2018.

    Calibration of the promotion amount does not help with learning variation in stochastic OT.
Joint work with Benjamin Storme. In Linguistic Inquiry
51.1: 97-123; 2020.

   Blindness, Short-sightedness, and Hirschberg's contextually ordered alternatives: a reply to Schlenker (2012). 
In Linguistic and Psycholinguistic Approaches on Implicatures and Presuppositions; Salvatore Pistoia-Reda and Filippo Domaneschi (eds.); Palgrave Macmillan; 2017.

   Idempotency, output-drivenness and the triangle inequality: some consequences of McCarthy's (2003) categoricity generalization.
In Journal of Logic, Language, and Information, 27.1: 1-60; 2018.

   Idempotency in Optimality Theory.
In Journal of Linguistics, 54.1: 139-187; 2018.

   Restrictiveness through relaxation.
In Short' schrift for Alan Prince; Eric Bakovic (ed.); 2015.

   Output-drivenness and partial phonological features.
In Linguistic Inquiry, 49.3: 577-598; 2018.

     A MaxSat formulation of the Subset problem in Optimality Theory.

   How to choose successful losers in error-driven phonotactic learning
Joint work with René KagerIn MOL14: Proceedings of the 14th Meeting on Mathematics of Language; 2015.  

   Idempotency and chain shifts.
In WCCFL 33: Proceedings of the 33rd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics; Kyeong-min Kim et al. (ed.); Cascadilla Proceedings Project; 2016.
   Universal restrictions on Natural Language determiners from a PAC-learnability perspective. 
In CogSci 37: Proceedings of the 37th annual conference of the Cognitive Science Society; 2015.

   Noise robustness and stochastic tolerance of OT error-driven ranking algorithms
In Journal of Logic and Computation, 26.3: 959-988; 2016.

   How to account for phonetically counterintuitive segment inventories using only phonetically grounded markedness constraints
Joint work with René KagerIn NELS 45: Proceedings of the 45th annual meeting of the North East Linguistic Society; 2015.

   How to keep the HG weights non-negative: the truncated Perceptron reweighing rule
In Journal of Language Modeling, 3.2: 345–375; 2015.

   Review of Tesar's (2013) Output-driven phonology: theory and learning.
In Phonology 31: 525-556; 2015.

   The error-driven ranking model of the acquisition of phonotactics: how to keep the faithfulness constraints at bay.
In MORPHFSM 2014: Proceedings of the 2014 Joint Meeting of SIGMorPhon and SIGFSM; Ozlem Cetinoglu, Jeffrey Heinz, Andreas Maletti, and Jason Riggle (eds.); Association for Computational Linguistics.

   Two puzzles raised by oddness in conjunction.
In Journal of Semantics, 33.1: 1-17; 2016.

   Error-driven learning in OT and HG: a comparison. 
In Phonology, 33.3: 493-532; 2016. 

   Error-driven versus batch models of the acquisition of phonotactics: David defeats Goliath.
In Supplemental Proceedings of Phonology 2013; John Kingston, Claire Moore-Cantwell, Joe Pater, and Robert Staubs (eds.); Linguistic Society of America, Washington DC.

   A closer look at Boersma and Hayes' (2001) Ilokano metathesis test case
Joint work with Benjamin Storme. In CLS 49: Proceedings of the 49th annual conference of the Chicago Linguistic Society; 2015.

   An account for the homogeneity effects triggered by plural definites and conjunction based on double strengthening.
In Pragmatics, Semantics and the Case of Scalar Implicatures; Salvatore Pistoia Reda (ed.); Palgrave Macmillan; pp. 99-145.

   The error-driven ranking model of the early stage of the acquisition of phonotactics: an initial result on correctness.
In NELS 43: Proceedings of the 43rd annual meeting of the North East Linguistics Society.

   An argument for nominal Lexical Cumulativity.
In Snippets 27:10-11.

   A note on the GLA's choice of the current loser from the perspective of factorizability
Journal of Logic, Language and Information22.2: 213-247; 2013.

   Tools for the robust analysis of OT error-driven ranking algorithms and their implications for modeling the child acquisition of phonotactics.
Journal of Logic and Computation, 24.1: 135-186.

   The complexity of Learning in Optimality Theory and its implications for modeling the child acquisition of phonotactics.
In Linguistic Inquiry, 44.3: 433–468. 

   HG has no computational advantages over OT: towards a new toolkit for computational OT
In Linguistic Inquiry, 44.4:569-609. 

   Constraint promotion: not only convergent but also efficient.
In CLS 48: Proceedings of the 48th annual conference of the Chicago Linguistic Society; Andrea Beltrama (ed.); pp. 471-485; 2014.

   No need for a dedicated theory of the distribution of readings of English bare plurals.
In SALT 22: Proceedings of Semantics and Linguistic Theory 22; Anca Chereches (ed.); pp. 383-402.

   An approximation approach to the problem of the acquisition of phonotactics in OT. 
In SIGMORPHON 12: Proceedings of the 12th meeting of the ACL Special Interest Group in Morphology and Phonology; L. Cahill and A. Albright (eds.); pp. 52-61. 

   Convergence of error-driven ranking algorithms.
Phonology, 29.2: 213-269; 2012.

   Collective nouns without groups
IATL 27: Proceedings of the 27th annual meeting of the Israeli Association for Theoretical Linguistics; pp. 183-202; 2012. 

   The plurality inference of object mass nouns.
Snippets, 24; pp. 9-10; 2011. 

   Another argument for embedded scalar implicatures based on oddness in downward entailing environments.
Semantics & Pragmatics, 4.6; pp.1-51; 2011.  

   On the performance of error-driven ranking algorithms on Prince & Tesar’s (2004) case studies
In CLS 47: Proceedings of the 47th annual conference of the Chicago Linguistics Society; 2011. 

   HG has no computational advantages over OT.
WCCFL 29: Proceedings of the 29th West Coast Conference in Formal Linguistics; J. Choi, E. A. Hogue, J. Punske, D. Tat, J. Schertz, and A. Trueman (eds.); pp. 380-388; Cascadilla Proceedings Project; Somerville, MA; 2012.  

   An online model of the acquisition of phonotactics within OT
In CogSci 33: Expanding the space of cognitive science: Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society; L. Carlson, C. Hölscher, & T. Shipley (eds.), pp. 2012-2017; Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society; 2011.  

   Another argument for embedded scalar implicatures based on oddness in downward entailing contexts
In SALT 20: Proceedings of the 20th annual conference Semantics and Linguistics Theory; N. Li & D. Lutz (eds.); pp. 564–581; 2011.  

   Complexity of the acquisition of Phonotactics in OT
In SIGMORPHON 11: Proceedings of the 11th meeting of the ACL Special Interest Group in Morphology and Phonology; J. Heinz, L. Cahill & R. Wicentowski; pp. 19–27; 2010.  

   A theory of individual-level predicates based on blind mandatory scalar implicatures (extended version)
Part I of my dissertation, filed at MIT in September 2009.  

   A theory of individual-level predicates based on blind mandatory scalar implicatures
In Natural Language Semantics, 17.3; pp. 245-297; 2009.  

   Mismatching scalar implicatures
In Proceedings of the MIT-Paris workshop on Implicatures and presuppositions; P. Egré and G. Magri (eds.); 2009; MITWPL 60, pp. 153-168; 2009.  

   Modeling doubly marked lags with a Split Additive Model
In BUCLD 32: Proceedings of the 32nd Boston University Conference on Child Language Development; H. Chan, H. Jacob and E. Kapla (eds.); vol. I, pp. 36-47; Cascadilla Press; 2007. 
Joint work with Adam Albright and Jennifer Michaels. 

   The Sortal Theory of plurals
In SuB 12: Proceedings of Sinn und Bedeutung 12; A. Grönn, (ed.); pp. 399-413; 2007. 

   The Blindness Hypothesis and individual-level predicates
In SALT 16: Proceedings of the 16th annual conference Semantics and Linguistics Theory; M. Gibson and J. Howell (eds.); pp. 102-119; CLC Publications; 2006.   

   Constraints on the readings of bare plural subjects of individual-level predicates: syntax or semantics? 
In NELS 35: Proceedings of the 35th annual meeting of the North East Linguistics Society; L. Bateman and C. Ussery (eds); vol. I, pp. 391-402; GLSA Publications; 2004.