Reconstructing Maps from Text

Avery, J. E., Goldstone, R. L, & Jones, M. N. (2021). Reconstructing Maps from Text. Cognitive Systems Research. doi:

Previous research has demonstrated that Distributional Semantic Models (DSMs) are capable of reconstructing maps from news corpora (Louwerse & Zwaan, 2009) and novels (Louwerse & Benesh, 2012). The capacity for reproducing maps is surprising since DSMs notoriously lack perceptual grounding . In this paper we investigate the statistical sources required in language to infer maps, and the resulting constraints placed on mechanisms of semantic representation. Study 1 brings word co-occurrence under experimental control to demonstrate that standard DSMs cannot reproduce maps when word co-occurrence is uniform. Specifically, standard DSMs require that direct co-occurrences between city names in a corpus mirror the proximity between the city locations in the map in order to successfully reconstruct the spatial map. Study 2 presents an instance-based DSM that is capable of reconstructing maps independent of the frequency of co-occurrence of city names.

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