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Paul Smolensky

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Paul Smolensky is a professor of Cognitive Science at the Johns Hopkins University. With Alan Prince he developed Optimality Theory, a controversial but influential theory about the organization of phonology.

Smolensky is the recipient of the 2005 Rumelhart Prize for his pursuit of the ICS Architecture, a model of cognition that aims to unify Connectionism and symbolism, where the symbolic representations and operations are manifested as abstractions on the underlying connectionist networks. Among his other important ideas is the notion of local conjunction of constraints - the idea that two constraints can combine into a single constraint that is violated only when both of its conjuncts are violated. Local conjunction has been applied to the analysis of various "additive" effects in Optimality Theory. With Bruce Tesar (Rutgers University), Smolensky has also contributed significantly to the study of the learnability of Optimality Theoretic grammars.

He is a member of the Center for Language and Speech Processing.

See alsoEdit



  • Smolensky, Paul & Legendre, Géraldine. 2006. The Harmonic Mind: From Neural Computation To Optimality-Theoretic Grammar Vol. 1: Cognitive Architecture; vol. 2: Linguistic and Philosophical Implications. MIT Press.
  • Prince, Alan & Smolensky, Paul. 2004. Optimality Theory: Constraint interaction in generative grammar. Blackwell. as Technical Report CU-CS-696-93, Department of Computer Science, University of Colorado at Boulder, and Technical Report TR-2, Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ, April 1993. Rutgers Optimality Archive 537 version, 2002.
  • Tesar, Bruce & Smolensky, Paul. 2000. Learnability in Optimality Theory. MIT Press.

Smolensky, Paul, Mozer, Michael C., & Rumelhart, David E. (eds.). 1996. Mathematical perspectives on neural networks. Erlbaum.

  • Macdonald, Cynthia & Macdonald, Graham. (eds.). 1995. Connectionism: Debates on psychological explanation, Volume 2. Basil Blackwell. [4 chapters, 183 pp.]
  • Mozer, Michael C., Smolensky, Paul, Touretzky, David, Elman, Jeffrey, & Weigend, Andreas. (eds.). 1993. Proceedings of the Connectionist Models Summer School 1993.Lawrence Erlbaum Publishers.
  • Smolensky, Paul. 1992. Il Connessionismo: Tra simboli e neuroni. Italian translation of the entire treatment, including peer commentary: On the proper treatment of connectionism, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 11, 1-74; with introduction by Marcello Frixione. Genova: Marietti/Cambridge University Press.

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