Paper: On Compositional Semantics

ACL ID C92-1042
Title On Compositional Semantics
Venue International Conference on Computational Linguistics
Session Main Conference
Year 1992

We prove a theorem stating that any semantics can be encoded as a compositional semantics, which means that, essentially, the standard definition of compositionality is for- mally vacuous. We then show that when one re- quires compositional semantics to be "systematic" (that is the meaning function can- not be arbitrary, but must belong to some class), one can easily distinguish between compositional and non-compositional semantics. We also pre- sent an example of a simple grammar for which there is no "systematic" compositional seman- tics. This implies that it is possible to distinguish "good" and "bad" grammars oll the basis of whether they can have compositional semantics. As a result, we believe that the paper clarifies the concept of compositionality and opens a possi- bility of mak...