nLab Noam Chomsky



Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, political critic and activist.

He is often regarded as the greatest linguist of the 20th century and has indisputably been the most influential one.

His seminal early work on formal language theory and computational complexity theory is by now an established part of the foundations of computer science.

For what it’s worth, there is of course also a:

Notable Ideas


Introduction of the hierarchy of formal languages via automata models of grammar:

  • Noam Chomsky, Three models for the description of language, IRE Transactions on Information Theory (1956). (draft)

THE classic text of modern (generative) linguistics introducing tree representations:

  • Noam Chomsky, Syntactic structures, Mouton The Hague (1957).

Introduction of features into syntax and first general constraints on grammar transformations:

  • Noam Chomsky, Aspects of the Theory of Syntax, MIT Press (1965).

The founding text of modern generative phonology? carrying a heavy debt to structuralist linguistics:

  • N. Chomsky, M. Halle, The Sound Pattern of English , MIT Press 1966.

Taking issue with the generative semantics “heresy” as well as laying down the foundations of contemporary phrase structure theory:

  • Noam Chomsky, Studies on Semantics in Generative Grammar , Mouton The Hague 1972.

Containing the early “debates” with Montague semantics:

  • Noam Chomsky, Essays on Form and Interpretation , North-Holland Amsterdam 1977.

The mature and genuine framework of generative linguistics as it evolved from 25 years of research:

  • Noam Chomsky, Lectures on Government and Binding , Mouton de Gruyter Berlin 1993[1981].

Many well established concepts are tossed overboard when optimality is adopted as central design feature of natural language in

  • Noam Chomsky, The Minimalist Program , MIT Press 1995.

The preliminarily last word is here

  • Noam Chomsky, The UCLA Lectures , ms. October 2020. (lingbuzz)

 Selected publications

Hopf algebras in generative linguistics:

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Last revised on July 8, 2023 at 16:53:28. See the history of this page for a list of all contributions to it.