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Are trees natural?

EirePreneur has a fascinating post on research by the Weizmann Institute of Science that a “tree-like hierarchy…may be a basic underpinning of language.”

There’s no question in my mind that arranging concepts so that A includes B which includes C is fundamental to how we think. But I’d only call that a tree if C can only hang from one branch. If it can hang from lots of branches simultaneously, we have something way messier and more complex.

From the article about the article:

Mathematically, these concept vectors can go in many directions, and reading the text can be thought of as a tour along paths in the resulting network. The multidimensional concept vectors seem to span a “web of ideas.” The scientists’ work suggests this network is based on a tree-like hierarchy that may be a basic underpinning of language. The reader or listener can reconstruct the hierarchical structure of a text, and thus the multidimensional space of ideas, in his or her mind to grasp “the author’s meaning.”

Hard to to tell from this exactly what the research showed. I haven’t yet found the original… (Thanks to Lisa Williams for the link.) [Tags: ]

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