Biomathematics / Computational Biology Colloquium

A Numerical Study of Human Concept Categorization

Speaker: Nicole Fider, Mathematics Department, University of California, Irvine

Location: Warren Weaver Hall 1314

Date: Tuesday, September 19, 2017, 12:30 p.m.


In the fields of psychology and linguistics, it is understood that speakers from a common linguistic background use basic color categories and corresponding basic color terms to divide and describe the color space.  These basic categories give members of the population the ability to communicate color information with each other, despite the fact that categories are not consistently defined across individuals.  The categories used by a population can evolve over time, and in fact categories are not consistently formed across cultures.  For example, different languages can use between 2 and 12 basic color categories.  We present a mathematical method of identifying a language's set of color categories and boundaries based on color-naming data provided by the World Color Survey Data Archives.  We also discuss the possible dynamics of category evolution and how it can be related to the numerical data.