Steven Piantadosi


I am an assistant professor at the University of Rochester, where I head colala, the Computation and Language Lab.

My research uses formal computational methods and behavioral experiments to study how people learn and process language. You can read about some work here and here .

I am an NCSE Steve who really likes free software, wikipedia, and accordions.


A current CV is available here.

phd thesis

My thesis studied learning in language of thought models, in which learners compose simple functions in order to express complex concepts like those needed for natural language. [read it here]. A precis is available here.


  • All data from papers published and in progress is available upon request.


S.T. Piantadosi, K. Mahowald, C. Kidd, R. Futrell, and E. Gibson. Lexical prescriptivism reduces communicative efficiency. under review. [ bib | email ]
K. Mahowald, I. Dautriche, E. Gibson, A. Christophe, and S.T. Piantadosi. Lexical clustering in efficient language design. under review. [ bib | email ]
J. Cantlon, S.T. Piantadosi, S. Ferrigno, K.D. Hughes, and A. Barnard. The origins of counting algorithms. under review. [ bib | email ]
Eric M. Miller, S.T. Piantadosi, Noah Goodman, and Samuel M. McClure. Cortico-striatal interactions during model-based reward learning. under review. [ bib | email ]
S.T. Piantadosi and R. Aslin. Rational rule inference in 3-4 year-olds. in prep. [ bib | email ]
Julian Jara-Ettinger, Steven T. Piantadosi, Elizabeth Spelke, Roger Levy, and Edward Gibson. Mastery of the logic of cardinality is not the result of mastery of counting: Evidence from the Tsimane' of Bolivia. under review. [ bib | email ]
Julian Jara-Ettinger, E. Gibson, C. Kidd, and S.T. Piantadosi. Native Amazonian Children Forego Egalitarianism When They Learn to Count. under review. [ bib | email ]
S.T. Piantadosi. Efficient estimation of Weber's W. under review. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, J.B. Tenenbaum, and N.D. Goodman. The logical primitives of thought: Empirical foundations for compositional cognitive models. under review. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi and R. Aslin. Compositional reasoning in early childhood. under revision. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi and B. Hayden. Utility-free models of binomial choice can replicate predictions of utility models in many conditions. under review. [ bib | email ]
S.T. Piantadosi, Holly Palmeri, and R. Aslin. Limits on composition of conceptual operations in 9-month-olds. in prep. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi. Zipf's law in natural language: a critical review and future directions. Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, in press. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi. Approximate number from first principles. under revision. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, L. Stearns, D. Everett, and E. Gibson. A corpus analysis of pirahã grammar: An investigation of recursion. Talk presented at the LSA (by E. Gibson), 2012. [ bib | .pdf ]
C. Rieth, S.T. Piantadosi, K. Smith, and E. Vul. Put your money where your mouth is: Incentivizing the truth by making nonreplicability costly. European Journal of Personality, 2013. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, J. Jara-Ettinger, and E. Gibson. Children's development of number in an indigenous farming-foraging group. Developmental Science, in press. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, N. Goodman, and J.B. Tenenbaum. Modeling the acquisition of quantifier semantics: a case study in function word learnability. under revision. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, C. Kidd, and R.N. Aslin. Rich analysis and rational models: Inferring individual behavior from infant looking data. Developmental Science, pages 1-16, 2014. [ bib | .pdf ]
C. Kidd, S.T. Piantadosi, and R.N. Aslin. The Goldilocks effect in infant auditory cognition. Child Development, in press. [ bib | email ]
S. T. Piantadosi, H. Tily, and E. Gibson. Information content versus word length in natural language: A reply to Ferrer-i-Cancho and Moscoso del Prado Martin [arXiv:1209.1751]. ArXiv e-prints, July 2013. [ bib | arXiv ]
S.T. Piantadosi and E. Gibson. Quantitative standards for absolute linguistic universals. Cognitive Science, in press. [ bib | .pdf ]
E. Gibson, P. Jacobson, P. Graff, K. Mahowald, E. Fedorenko, and S.T. Piantadosi. A pragmatic account of complexity in definite antecedent-contained-deletion relative clauses. Journal of Semantics, in press. [ bib | email ]
E. Gibson, K. Mahowald, S.T. Piantadosi, and R. Levy. Erroneous analyses drive the reported reading time effects in Hackl, Koster-Hale & Varvoutis (2012). under review. [ bib | email ]
E. Gibson, L. Bergen, and S.T. Piantadosi. The rational integration of noise and prior semantic expectation: Evidence for a noisy-channel model of sentence interpretation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 11:8051-8056, 2013. [ bib | .pdf ]
E. Gibson, S.T. Piantadosi, K. Brink, L. Bergen, E. Lim, and R. Saxe. A noisy-channel account of crosslinguistic word order variation. Psychological Science, 24:1079-1088, 2012. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, J.B. Tenenbaum, and N.D Goodman. Bootstrapping in a language of thought: a formal model of numerical concept learning. Cognition, 123:199-217, 2012. [ bib | .pdf ]
E. Fedorenko, S.T. Piantadosi, and E. Gibson. The interaction of syntactic and lexical information sources in language processing: The case of the noun-verb ambiguity. Journal of Cognitive Science, 2012. [ bib | .pdf ]
E. Gibson, S.T. Piantadosi, and E. Fedorenko. Quantitative methods in syntax / semantics research: A response to Sprouse & Almeida. Language and Cognitive Processes, 2012. [ bib | .pdf ]
C. Kidd, S.T. Piantadosi, and R.N. Aslin. The Goldilocks effect: Human infants allocate attention to visual sequences that are neither too simple nor too complex. PLoS ONE, 2012. [ bib | http ]
K. Mahowald, E. Fedorenko, S.T. Piantadosi, and E. Gibson. Info/information theory: speakers actively choose shorter words in predictable contexts. Cognition, 126:313-318, 2012. [ bib | .pdf ]
E. Fedorenko, S. Piantadosi, and E. Gibson. Processing relative clauses in supportive contexts. Cognitive Science, 36:1-27, 2012. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi. Learning and the language of thought. PhD thesis, MIT, 2011. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, H. Tily, and E. Gibson. The communicative function of ambiguity in language. Cognition, 122:280-291, 2011. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, H. Tily, and E. Gibson. Word lengths are optimized for efficient communication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(9):3526, 2011. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, H. Tily, and E. Gibson. Reply to Reilly and Kean: Clarifications on word length and information content. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 108(20):E109, 2011. [ bib | .pdf ]
E. Gibson, S.T. Piantadosi, and K. Fedorenko. Using Mechanical Turk to Obtain and Analyze English Acceptability Judgments. Language and Linguistics Compass, 5(8):509-524, 2011. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi and J.P. Crutchfield. How the dimension of space affects the products of pre-biotic evolution: The spatial population dynamics of structural complexity and the emergence of membranes. Santa Fe Institute Working Paper arXiv:1010.5019, 2010. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi. Symbolic dynamics on free groups. Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems, 20(3):725-738, 2008. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, J.B. Tenenbaum, and N.D. Goodman. Beyond boolean logic: exploring representation languages for learning complex concepts. In Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2010. [ bib | .pdf ]
C. Kidd, S.T. Piantadosi, and R.N. Aslin. The Goldilocks effect: Infants' preference for visual stimuli that are neither too predictable nor too surprising. In Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2010. [ bib | .pdf ]
H. Tily and ST Piantadosi. Refer efficiently: Use less informative expressions for more predictable meanings. In Proceedings of the workshop on the production of referring expressions: Bridging the gap between computational and empirical approaches to reference, 2009. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, H.J. Tily, and E. Gibson. The communicative lexicon hypothesis. In Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, pages 2582-2587, 2009. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi, N.D. Goodman, B.A. Ellis, and J.B. Tenenbaum. A Bayesian model of the acquisition of compositional semantics. In Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2008. [ bib | .pdf ]
S.T. Piantadosi. Symbolic dynamics on free groups. Senior Honors Thesis, 2006. [ bib | .pdf ]


  • LOTlib is a library for modeling learning complex concepts as compositions of primitives in a language of thought. Please note that this is still under heavy development. GPL3

  • kelpy (kid experimental library in python) is a library for running simple psychology experiments in python. It is intended primarily for making simple animated displays with simple responses for baby and child experiments. It is built on top of pygame and is under heavy development at present. Email me for updates / questions. GPL3

  • ngrampy is a python library for manipulating large google ngram data sets, and computing measures such as average surprisal in context from Piantadosi, Tily, & Gibson (2011). Code is included to replicate that finding (email me if you don't have the corpora). GPL3

  • GPUropolis Bayesian inference via Metropolis-Hastings on symbolic expressions, currently only for symbolic regression but under heavy development. Code is highly parallelized using CUDA to run on graphics (GPGPU) hardware. This enables use of tens of thousands of chains in parallel. Includes several classic scientific data sets to test with. GPL3

  • WeberMCMC Bayesian data analysis for estimation of Weber ratios. In practice, incorporating the reliability of an estimate of W into statistics allows for more power and correctness. GPL3

  • Turkolizer software for analyzing linguistic data gathered on mechanical turk (paper here). This software was primarily developed by Ted Gibson and Kris Fedorenko.