Do you have any classic references for mathematical approaches in bioinformatics that are applicable to linguistics (or vice versa)?

I am mainly interested in approaches to reconstruct the history of languages, the rate of language mutation, phylogenies of languages, etc.

  • $\begingroup$ An approach to do what exactly? The question is too vague to answer. $\endgroup$ – fileunderwater Aug 29 '13 at 8:49
  • $\begingroup$ @fileunderwater,approaches to construct history of language,the rate of language mutation,the phylegen,etc. $\endgroup$ – XL _At_Here_There Aug 29 '13 at 9:18
  • $\begingroup$ I'm interested in whether you've crossposted this question on Linguistics SE. I wonder if you'd get different or similar answers. $\endgroup$ – Oreotrephes Aug 30 '13 at 0:39
  • $\begingroup$ @Oreotrephes,sorry,I have not crossposted this question on Linguistics SE.I think I will get no answer,since my other question and answers on the Linguistics usually get downvoted,very interesting.Of course,there are some persons standing up for my answer. $\endgroup$ – XL _At_Here_There Aug 31 '13 at 16:34
  • $\begingroup$ Strange – I hope these answers help you at least get started! $\endgroup$ – Oreotrephes Sep 1 '13 at 0:28

There are a number of more recent papers dealing with phylogenetic methods in reconstructing language history as well, including work by Colin Renfrew and Quentin Atkinson.

Here are two recent high-profile papers. Unfortunately, both are still behind paywalls, but even reading the list of papers they cite / that cite them would be a great way to answer your question.

Maybe not quite as high-profile, but available online, one of my classmates did his (superb) undergraduate thesis as a Biology/Linguistics double major in exactly this topic. I think it could be a very useful place to start, although there have certainly been developments in the field in the last six years:

See also the wikipedia page Quantitative Comparative Linguistics, this Stanford how-to, and this interesting article Linguistic Phylogenies Are Not the Same as Biological Phylogenies.

| improve this answer | |

Branching processes (from probability theory) were originally developed to study the extinction of family names (Galton-Watson process), but are also used to study biological extinction and general evolutionary processes. One example that applies ideas from branching processes and phylogenetic methods to reconstruct ancient languanges can be found in Forster & Toth (2003). The basic concepts of branching processes can be found in most textbooks on probability theory, but a classic reference is Harris 1963 (pdf).

This is maybe not exactly what you are after but should be related to your question.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.