Robert C. Berwick

Professor of Computational Linguistics and Computer Science and Engineering, jointly with Brain and Cognitive Sciences

  • Harvard University, AB, Applied Mathematics, 1976
  • MIT, MS, Computer Science, 1980
  • MIT, PhD, Computer Science, 1982

Brief Biography

Professor Berwick and his research group investigate  computation and cognition, including computational models of language acquisition, language processing, and language change, within the context of machine learning, modern grammatical theory, and mathematical models of dynamical systems.  A second line of inquiry is probing the biological and evolutionary underpinnings of human language, including models of language change as well as its biologically-grounded evolutionary origins, in particular, in birdsong.

Professor Berwick has been the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Award as well as the MIT Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award, MIT’s highest  honor for junior faculty.  He has also received an NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award. He helped found and run MIT’s Center for Biological and Computational Learning for more than 15 years.

Selected Publications

  • R. Berwick, “What genes cannot learn about language,” PNAS, 2009.
  • R. Berwick and N. Chomsky, “Biolinguistics: its current state of evolution and development.”
  • R. Berwick, “Syntax facit saltum redux: from language genotype to phenotype.”
  • R. Berwick and N. Chomsky, “Poverty of the stimulus revisited”
  • P. Niyogi and R. Berwick, “The proper treatment of language acquisition and change in a population setting”
  • S. Fong and R. Berwick, “Treebank parsing and knowledge of language: a cognitive perspective”

Selected Awards

  • Fulbright Scholar, 2009-2010
  • Collegium Budapest Fellow, 1995-96
  • Co-director, MIT Center for Computational and Biological Learning, 1996-2000
  • Vinton Hayes Professor, 1995-99
  • NSF Presidential Young Investigator Award, 1986-1989
  • John Simon Guggenheim Fellow, 1987-1988
  • MIT Edgerton Faculty Achievement Award, 1986
  • Marshall Fellowship Award, 1976

Selected Grants

  • NSF, “Learning Syntax and Semantics at the Bayesian Interface”
  • NSF/DARPA, Computational and Biological Learning, Center of Excellence
  • Kapor Family Foundation Award
  • NSF Presidential Fellowship Award, 1985-1989

Courses Taught

  • 6.863J: Natural Language Processing
  • 6.034: Introduction to Artificial Intelligence
  • 6.877: Computational Evolutionary Biology