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Linguistic Inquiry

Fall 2013, Vol. 44, No. 4, Pages 569-609
(doi: 10.1162/LING_a_00139)
© 2013 Massachusetts Institute of Technology
HG Has No Computational Advantages over OT: Toward a New Toolkit for Computational OT
Article PDF (3.39 MB)

Various authors have recently endorsed Harmonic Grammar (HG) as a replacement for Optimality Theory (OT). One argument for this move is that OT seems not to have close correspondents within machine learning while HG allows methods and results from machine learning to be imported into computational phonology. Here, I prove that this argument in favor of HG and against OT is wrong. In fact, I show that any algorithm for HG can be turned into an algorithm for OT. Hence, HG has no computational advantages over OT. This result allows tools from machine learning to be systematically adapted to OT. As an illustration of this new toolkit for computational OT, I prove convergence for a slight variant of Boersma’s (1998) (nonstochastic) Gradual Learning Algorithm.