Sunday, March 27, 2005

Metafor: Natural Language Programming

From MIT: Researchers at the Media Lab at MIT have developed a parser that converts natural language to a visual representation of code.

Ok. I created a new agent Pacman that is a kind of character agent. I added the ability for Pacman to run, which can be through a maze. I added the ability for Pacman to eat. A dot is something which can be eaten. Whenever Pacman eats a dot, it disappears and he wins a point.

And the parser interprets the meaning of those sentences, translates the logic to a computer language (Python, in this case), and creates the game.

Pretty neat. If you read the PDF (three pages; more or less accessible if you know what "deictic" and "anaphora" mean), it becomes clear that they are mainly thinking of it as a tool to help computer programmers brainstorm. But it might also be interesting as a way of teaching programming to kids, and also as a way of thinking about the way stories 'work' (deictically) in language.

There is also a Quicktime movie demo of their parser, but I couldn't get it to play...

This type of thing makes me wish I knew more about semantics (a sub-field of linguistics), as well as programming.

It also, incidentally, reminds me of the interactive fiction Adam Cadre writes. A parser like this might make the task of coding such stories much more straightforward.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Tranen

Anonymous said...

Tranen

Anonymous said...

Actually, there IS a language called Inform, which adapts the concept of natural language programming to interactive fiction.