steven t. piantadosi


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

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

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.


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.

data + code

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

Please see the resources page on colala for links to current projects.


under review
[62]S. T. Piantadosi, J. Cantlon, "True Numerical Cognition in the Wild", under review. [email]
[61]S. T. Piantadosi, E. Fedorenko, "Infinitely productive language can arise from chance under communicative pressure", under review. [email]
[60]S. T. Piantadosi et al., "Lexical prescriptivism reduces communicative efficiency", under review. [email]
[59]S. T. Piantadosi, H. Palmeri and R. Aslin, "Limits on composition of conceptual operations in 9-month-olds", under review. [pdf]
[58]S. T. Piantadosi, N. Goodman and J. Tenenbaum, "Modeling the acquisition of quantifier semantics: a case study in function word learnability", under review. [pdf]
[57]E. M. Miller et al., "Cortico-striatal interactions during model-based reward learning", under review. [email]
[56]K. Mahowald et al., "Lexical clustering in efficient language design", under review. [email]
[55]J. Jara-Ettinger et al., "Mastery of the logic of cardinality is not the result of mastery of counting: Evidence from the Tsimane' of Bolivia", under review. [email]
[54]E. Gibson et al., "Task effects in cross-cultural research: Computerized experiments can yield misleading results in non-industrialized populations", under review. [email]
[53]E. Gibson et al., "Erroneous analyses drive the reported reading time effects in Hackl, Koster-Hale & Varvoutis (2012)", under review. [email]
[52]I. Dautriche et al., "Wordform similarity increases with semantic similarity: an analysis of 101 languages", under review. [email]
in press
[51]S. T. Piantadosi, C. Kidd, "Extraordinary intelligence and the care of infants", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in press. [email]
[50]S. T. Piantadosi, C. Kidd, "Endogenous or exogenous? The data don’t say (Commentary on Han, Musolino, & Lidz 2016)", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, in press. [email]
[49]S. T. Piantadosi, "Efficient estimation of Weber's W", Behavior Research Methods, in press. [pdf]
[48]S. T. Piantadosi, J. Tenenbaum and N. Goodman, "The logical primitives of thought: Empirical foundations for compositional cognitive models", Psychological Review, in press.
[47]S. T. Piantadosi, R. Aslin, "Compositional reasoning in early childhood", PLOS ONE, in press. [pdf]
[46]S. T. Piantadosi, "A rational analysis of the approximate number system", Psychonomic Bulletin and Review, in press. [pdf] [doi]
[45]E. Gibson et al., "A pragmatic account of complexity in definite Antecedent-Contained-Deletion relative clauses", Journal of Semantics, in press. [email]
[44]S. T. Piantadosi, R. Jacobs, "Four problems solved by the probabilistic Language of Thought", Current Directions in Psychological Science, vol. 25, 2016, pp. 54-59. [pdf]
[43]R. Futrell et al., "A Corpus Investigation of Syntactic Embedding in Pirahã", PLOS ONE, 2016. [pdf]
[42]E. J. Bigelow, S. T. Piantadosi, "A large dataset of generalization patterns in the number game", Journal of Open Psychology Data, 2016. [pdf]
[41]S. T. Piantadosi, B. Hayden, "Response: "Commentary: Utility-free heuristic models of two-option choice can mimic predictions of utility-stage models under many conditions”", Frontiers in Neuroscience, vol. 9, no. 299, 2015. [pdf] [doi]
[40]S. T. Piantadosi, "Problems in the philosophy of mathematics: A view from cognitive science", in Mathematics, Substance and Surmise: Views on the Meaning and Ontology of Mathematics, E. Davis, P. J. Davis, Eds., Springer, 2015. [pdf]
[39]S. T. Piantadosi, B. Hayden, "Utility-free models of binomial choice can replicate predictions of utility models in many conditions", Frontiers in Neuroscience, 2015. [pdf]
[38]M. Pelz, S. T. Piantadosi and C. Kidd, "The dynamics of idealized attention in complex learning environments", in The 5th Joint IEEE International Conference on Development and Learning and on Epigenetic Robotics, 2015. [pdf]
[37]F. Mollica, S. T. Piantadosi, "Towards semantically rich and recursive word learning models", Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society, 2015. [pdf]
[36]F. Mollica, S. T. Piantadosi and M. K. Tanenhaus, "The perceptual foundation of linguistic context", Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society, 2015. [pdf]
[35]J. Jara-Ettinger et al., "Native Amazonian Children Forego Egalitarianism When They Learn to Count", Developmental Science, 2015. [pdf] [doi]
[34]P. Hemmer et al., "Inferring the Tsimane's use of color categories from recognition memory", Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society, 2015. [pdf]
[33]J. Cantlon et al., "The origins of counting algorithms", Psychological Science, 2015. [pdf]
[32]S. Alonso-Diaz, J. Cantlon and S. T. Piantadosi, "Cognition in reach: continuous statistical inference in optimal motor planning", Proceedings of the Cognitive Science Society, 2015. [pdf]
[31]S. T. Piantadosi, C. Kidd and R. Aslin, "Rich analysis and rational models: Inferring individual behavior from infant looking data", Developmental Science, 2014, pp. 1-16. [pdf]
[30]S. T. Piantadosi, E. Gibson, "Quantitative Standards for Absolute Linguistic Universals", Cognitive Science, vol. 38, no. 4, 2014, pp. 736-756. [pdf] [doi]
[29]S. T. Piantadosi, J. Jara-Ettinger and E. Gibson, "Children's learning of number words in an indigenous farming-foraging group", Developmental Science, vol. 17, no. 4, 2014, pp. 553-563. [pdf] [doi]
[28]S. T. Piantadosi, "Zipf’s word frequency law in natural language: A critical review and future directions", Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, vol. 21, 2014, pp. 1112-1130. [pdf] [doi]
[27]C. Kidd, S. T. Piantadosi and R. N. Aslin, "The Goldilocks Effect in Infant Auditory Attention", Child Development, vol. 85, 2014, pp. 1795-1804. [pdf] [doi]
[26]S. T. Piantadosi, H. T. H. 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, jul 2013. [pdf]
[25]C. Rieth et al., "Put your money where your mouth is: Incentivizing the Truth by Making Nonreplicability Costly", European Journal of Personality, 2013. [pdf]
[24]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, vol. 11, 2013, pp. 8051-8056. [pdf]
[23]S. T. Piantadosi et al., "A corpus analysis of Pirahã grammar: An investigation of recursion", Talk presented at the LSA (by E. Gibson)., 2012. [pdf]
[22]S. T. Piantadosi, J. Tenenbaum and N. Goodman, "Bootstrapping in a language of thought: a formal model of numerical concept learning", Cognition, vol. 123, 2012, pp. 199-217. [pdf]
[21]K. Mahowald et al., "Info/information theory: speakers actively choose shorter words in predictable contexts.", Cognition, vol. 126, 2012, pp. 313-318. [pdf]
[20]C. Kidd, S. T. Piantadosi and R. Aslin, "The Goldilocks Effect: Human Infants Allocate Attention to Visual Sequences That Are Neither Too Simple Nor Too Complex", PLoS ONE, 2012. [pdf]
[19]E. Gibson, S. T. Piantadosi and E. Fedorenko, "Quantitative methods in syntax / semantics research: A response to Sprouse & Almeida", Language and Cognitive Processes, 2012. [pdf]
[18]E. Gibson et al., "A noisy-channel account of crosslinguistic word order variation", Psychological Science, vol. 24, 2012, pp. 1079-1088. [pdf]
[17]E. Fedorenko, S. Piantadosi and E. Gibson, "Processing Relative Clauses in Supportive Contexts", Cognitive Science, vol. 36, 2012, pp. 1-27. [pdf]
[16]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. [pdf]
[15]S. T. Piantadosi, H. Tily and E. Gibson, "Word lengths are optimized for efficient communication", Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 108, no. 9, 2011, pp. 3526. [pdf]
[14]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, vol. 108, no. 20, 2011, pp. E109. [pdf]
[13]S. T. Piantadosi, "Learning and the language of thought.", Ph.D. dissertation, MIT, 2011. [pdf]
[12]S. T. Piantadosi, H. Tily and E. Gibson, "The communicative function of ambiguity in language", Cognition, vol. 122, 2011, pp. 280--291. [pdf]
[11]E. Gibson, S. T. Piantadosi and K. Fedorenko, "Using Mechanical Turk to Obtain and Analyze English Acceptability Judgments", Language and Linguistics Compass, vol. 5, no. 8, 2011, pp. 509-524. [pdf]
[10]S. T. Piantadosi, J. 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. [pdf]
[9]S. T. Piantadosi, J. Tenenbaum and N. Goodman, "Beyond Boolean logic: exploring representation languages for learning complex concepts", in Proceedings of the 32nd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2010. [pdf]
[8]C. Kidd, S. T. Piantadosi and R. 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. [pdf]
[7]H. Tily, S. T. 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. [pdf]
[6]S. T. Piantadosi, H. Tily and E. Gibson, "The communicative lexicon hypothesis", in Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2009, pp. 2582-2587. [pdf]
[5]S. T. Piantadosi, "Symbolic dynamics on free groups", Discrete and Continuous Dynamical Systems, vol. 20, no. 3, 2008, pp. 725-738. [pdf]
[4]S. T. Piantadosi et al., "A Bayesian model of the acquisition of compositional semantics", in Proceedings of the 30th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 2008. [pdf]
[3]S. T. Piantadosi, "Symbolic Dynamics on Free Groups", Senior Honors Thesis, 2006. [pdf]
[2]S. T. Piantadosi, "Computation with opaque representation", Unpublished paper, 2006. [pdf]