My main research concerns the development of computational models that predict language change over time. My particular interest is in characterizing the cognitive mechanisms that underlie the emergence of word meanings, such that a potentially infinite range of ideas may be expressed via finite lexicons in the world's languages. I take an interdisciplinary approach that combines rich empirical data with methods drawn from natural language processing and machine learning, with the goal of understanding and constructing natural language.
- Ramiro, C., Srinivasan, M., Malt, B.C. and Xu, Y. (2018) Algorithms in the historical emergence of word senses. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 115(10), 2323-2328.
- Kemp, C., Xu, Y., and Regier, T. (2018) Semantic typology and efficient communication. Annual Review of Linguistics, 4, 109-128.
- Xu, Y., Malt, B.C., and Srinivasan, M. (2017) Evolution of word meanings through metaphorical mapping: Systematicity over the past millennium. Cognitive Psychology, 96, 41-53.
- Cibelli, E., Xu, Y., Austerweil, J.L., Griffiths, T.L. and Regier T. (2016). The Sapir-Whorf hypothesis and probabilistic inference: Evidence from the domain of color. PLOS ONE, 11(7): e0158725.
- Xu, Y., Regier, T. and Malt, B.C. (2016) Historical semantic chaining and efficient communication: The case of container names. Cognitive Science, 40(8), 2081-2094.