Mathematics and linguistics have profound overlaps. Both explore intricate systems, patterns and structures and pave the way for ground-breaking interdisciplinary studies. For those who have a keen interest in both domains, there are a lot of opportunities awaiting. We now investigate the relationship between these two fields and find out some interdisciplinary university programs that cater to these two interests.
Mathematics and Linguistics: The Unseen Bridge
Linguistics and mathematics intersect at numerous junctures. For instance, Chomsky’s hierarchical structure of grammar ties closely with formal language theory in computer science, which is deeply mathematical. Moreover, phonetics often employs mathematical and statistical methods for analysis. In semantics, the meaning of words in languages is often represented using mathematical logic.
The relationship can be exemplified through “Mathematical Linguistics”, where mathematical theories and techniques are used to study and model linguistic phenomena. These models help in understanding language patterns, machine translation, and even voice recognition systems.
Here are some of the interdisciplinary undergraduate programs worth exploring:
Undergraduate Major in Linguistics & Philosophy, MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), US
MIT’s Department of Linguistics and Philosophy offers the Program in Language and Mind as an undergraduate module, aiming to introduce students to the fundamental concepts and domains of language study and knowledge representation, spanning philosophy, linguistics, and cognitive science. Students can choose between two tracks: philosophy or linguistics. Both tracks include core subjects from both fields and develop students for graduate studies in philosophy/cognitive science or linguistics. Completing the major requires three restricted electives from linguistics, philosophy, or a related area.
Symbolic Systems Program, Stanford University, US
The B.S. in Symbolic Systems program units students and faculty with interests in human-computer relationships. To complete this program, students must finish the core courses and choose a five-course concentration from the following options: Applied Logic, Artificial Intelligence, Biomedical Applications, Cognitive Science, Computational Foundations, Computational Social Science, Computer Music, Decision Making and Relationality, Human-Centred Artificial Intelligence, Human-Computer Interaction, Media and Communication, Natural Language, Neurosciences, and Philosophical Foundations.
Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, University of Cambridge, UK
The Theoretical and Applied Linguistics undergraduate program delves into the world of language as a phenomenon, offering various paths of analysis. The one-year Part I program provides a general introduction to all areas in linguistics, and the two-year Part II program allows students to specialise in particular areas
Mathematics and Philosophy Degree, University of Oxford, UK
The core mathematics curriculum for this three-year BA joint course includes modules in pure mathematics such as Algebra, Analysis, Calculus, Probability and the philosophy of mathematics. In the second and third years, students will continue with core pure mathematics subjects, foundational courses in Set Theory and Logic, and philosophy modules covering topics like knowledge and reality or Early Modern philosophy. Additionally, students will complete bridge papers in philosophy of mathematics and foundations, along with optional course selections. The fourth year leads to the award of an MMath Phil degree.
Cognitive Neuroscience and Evolutionary Psychology, Harvard University, US
This interdisciplinary program in Psychology, also known as CNEP Track, allows students to combine coursework in psychology and research experiences in selected areas of biology, such as Human Evolutionary Biology, Neuroscience, Molecular and Cellular Biology, and Organismic and Evolutionary Biology.
BSc Cognitive Science, University of Edinburgh, UK
This BSc Cognitive Science program is known for its research-oriented approach, helping students to investigate the link between psychology, linguistics, philosophy, and mathematical and programming skills. It covers both behavioural and computational aspects of cognitive science through human experiments and computer simulation development.
B.A. Linguistics and Computer Science, UCLA (University of California, Los Angeles), US
The B.A. Linguistics and Computer Science program includes fundamental computer science modules with less focus on hardware. It also incorporates essential aspects of general linguistics, touching on fields like philosophy, anthropology, and cognitive psychology to study the nature, grammar, and history of human language.
Cognitive Science Program, University of Toronto, Canada
This Cognitive Science Program combines courses from Computer Science, Human Biology, Linguistics, Philosophy, and Psychology. It offers flexibility, allowing students to major in either arts or science, with various streams tailored to their interests. The arts stream includes options like Perception and Attention, Language and Cognition or Thinking and Reasoning; while the science stream offers Computational Cognition or Cognition and the Brain.
Computational and Applied Mathematics, University of Chicago, US
The B.S. in Computational and Applied Mathematics program enables students to choose three courses in computational mathematics, applied mathematics, and their practical applications in physics, biological sciences, engineering, operational research, economics and finance. This self-designed curriculum can also serve as preparation for a Ph.D. program.
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