Matthew Spike

Bio

I am a Teaching Fellow in Language Evolution and Acquisition based in the department of Linguistics and English Language in the School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences at the University of Edinburgh. I was previously a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Australian National University working in the Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, supervised by Prof. Kim Sterelny, and before this I was a PhD candidate in the Language Evolution and Computation Research Unit at the University of Edinburgh, supervised by Prof. Simon Kirby and Dr. Kenny SmithI also have a BA (Hons 1st class) in Turkish & Linguistics from SOAS, University of London and an MSc (Distinction) in the Evolution of Language and Cognition from University of Edinburgh.


My professional experience includes time spent in ESL teaching (2005-present: Spain, Turkey, UK),  IT technical support (1999-2003: UK, USA), running a bar (2003-2005: Spain) and brief stints at attempting to be a viniculturist in northern California and an astrophysics student in Edinburgh.

I speak Turkish, Spanish, French, and Python.

Research Interests

I am interested in how cultural processes contribute to the evolution of linguistic structure and conventions. My general approach is to 1) identify a minimal framework to describe different aspects of language and then 2) determine the minimal requirements - cognitive and social - required for their emergence. For example, I have looked at how populations of learning agents develop signalling systems, and how those signalling systems take on both simple and more complex structures.

Much of this involves the direct comparison of models from several disciplines, including evolutionary linguistics, artificial life, evolutionary game theory and economics. To this end, I primarily use agent-based modelling (typically involving an exemplar-theoretic methodology). This is supported - and heavily influenced - by mathematical tools borrowed from information theory. 

I am also interested in empirical applications of the above, particularly in the quantification of structural complexity of both experimental and natural language data.

Output

Spike, M. (2018). The evolution of linguistic rules. Biology & Philosophy, 32(6), 887-904.

Spike, M. (2017) Population size, learning, and innovation determine linguistic omplexity. Proceedings of the 39th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society

Spike, M., Stadler, K., Kirby, S. & Smith, K. - Minimal Requirements for the Emergence of Learned Signalling. Cognitive Science (2016) link

Spike, M., Kirby, S. & Smith, K. - The information dynamics of signalling games. (in preparation)

Spike, M., Stadler, K., Kirby, S. & Smith, K.
(2014) Minimal Requirements for the Emergence of Learned Signalling. In E. Cartmill, S. Roberts, H. Lyn, H. Cornish (Eds.) The Evolution of Language: Proceedings of the 10th international conference (EvoLangX) World Scientific.

Spike, M., Stadler, K., Kirby, S. & Smith, K. (2013) Learning, Feedback and Information in Self-Organizing Communication Systems. In M. Knauff, M. Pauen, N. Sebanz, & I. Wachsmuth (Eds.), Proceedings of the 35th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 3442-3447). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.


Spike, M. (2012) Modelling the Evolution of Communication Systems—Learning, Exemplars and Pólya Urns. MSc thesis, University of Edinburgh. 

Presentations

Information Dynamics in Learned Referential Signalling Games (2016) talk given at The Twenty-Fifth Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association, Atlanta, Georgia

The Evolution of Linguistic Rules (2016): invited talk given at the Evolution of Language Workshop, ANU

Rules and randomness: recognising and measuring linguistic structure and complexity (2016)  talk given at the Australian Association of Philosophy 2016 Conference, Monash Unversity, Melbourne

Minimal pressures leading to duality of patterning (2016) talk given at the 11th Evolution of Langauge Conference, New Orleans

(with Vanessa Ferdinand) Word learners regularise synonyms and homonyms similarly (2016)
talk given at the 11th Evolution of Langauge Conference, New Orleans

Information Dynamics of Learned Signalling Games (2016) poster presented at the 11th Evolution of Langauge Conference, New Orleans

Rules and randomness: recognising and measuring the emergence of structure (2015) talk given at LEC seminar series, University of Edinburgh.

(Don’t) zip it: no short-cut to quantifying linguistic structure & complexity? (2014) talk given at Edinburgh University Post-Graduate Conference in Linguistics.

Lost in Transmission? The information dynamics of signalling games (2014) talk given at LEC seminar series, University of Edinburgh. 

What can linguistic convention tell us about the cultural evolution of language? (2013) talk given at LEC seminar series, University of Edinburgh.

Grants

My PhD and MSc were supported by an ESRC 1+3 studentship.

Tutoring & Teaching

I have tutored on several pre-honours courses: Linguistics and English Language 1 (LEL1), Linguistic Theory and the Structure of English (LEL2a), and Cross-Linguistic Variation: Limits and Theories (LEL2d).

I have worked as a lab demonstrator on the honours/MSc course Simulating Language.

In 2014/2015 I was nominated for two EUSA teaching awards.

I have also worked as a CELTA-qualified English language instructor since 2005.

Family

My mother is author, journalist, translator and academic Maureen Freely; my father is author, journalist and editor Paul Spike; my grandfather is physicist, historian and travel writer John Freely; my late grandfather was theologian and civil rights leader Robert W. Spike.

Last, but definitely not least, I am married to screenwriter and translator Ozge Spike; we are parents to the amazing Mina.








email: mspike@ed.ac.uk
Dugald Stewart Building
3 Charles St, Edinburgh EH8 9AD
United Kingdom