Vector fields: a new approach to evolving semantics


Vector fields: a new approach to evolving semantics

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Open Access

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Dependency track, Discovery


Preserveware Editor




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A glance into open-ended research questions and an ongoing effort to model semantic change on a vector field.

Expected learning outcomes

  • Understand that change cannot be modelled on static vector space.
  • Understand that as dynamics can be modelled conveniently by a vector field, semantic change needs a field model for its proper study.
  • The ability to problematise about the implications, e.g. how to match dynamic semantics with evolving fields.

What is the target audience?

  • Digital Preservation and Digital Humanities practitioners who are interested in investigating the deployment of semantics and relevant cutting-edge technologies.
  • Researchers working on semantics who are interested in investigating the application of relevant methods and technologies in a Humanities field.
  • Students in computer linguistics and knowledge engineering interested in evolving semantics.

Level of advancement/ prerequisites


Material chapters

This recorded lecture is part of a larger module “Dynamics of knowledge organisation”:

This is chapter 3 of the complete set:

  1. Semantics and DP: basic concepts, theories and trends
  2. Vectors and matrices: word meaning for advanced access
  3. Vector fields: a new approach to evolving semantics
  4. The Semantic Web & the Emergence of Ontologies
  5. Semantic Technologies & DP
  6. Evolving Semantics: Ontology Evolution & Semantic Drifts

Time required for completion

24:21 min

​Supplementary reading

Wittek et al. discuss how the requirement to model semantic change leads to lexical fields as a preferred model of word meaning; how evolving lexical fields presuppose a vector field for representation instead of vector space; and how Emergent Self-Oganizing Maps as the mathematical approach meet Aristotle’s ideas about actuality and potentiality as two components of a continuous reality.

Wittek, P., Darányi, S., Liu, Y-H. 2014. A Vector Field Approach to Lexical Semantics. In: Proceedings of 8th International Conference on Quantum Interaction, Filzbach, Switzerland. June 30 – July 3, 2014.


Ultsch and Moerchen’s report introduces two ideas to model evolving vector fields: to model the tension structure vs. the content structure (i.e. content distribution) of a high-dimensional dataset by its mapping to a 2-dimensional representation.

Ultsch, A., & Moerchen, F. 2005. ESOM-Maps: tools for clustering, visualization, and classification with Emergent SOM. Technical Report Dept. of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Marburg, Germany, No. 46.

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