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ALUMNI Dr. Patrick McCrae Print E-mail

Pat McCrae

Contact Details

Bundesstraße 28 a
20146 Hamburg, Germany


patrick d.o.t mccrae a.t langtec d.o.t de

Prof. Wolfgang Menzel (Hamburg University)

Co-Supervisor: Prof. Maosong Sun (Tsinghua University)

Research Topic

The Integration of Cross-Modal Context for Syntactic Disambiguation

Most natural language utterances contain ambiguity, which results in semantic underspecification. Despite the presence of ambiguity, human communication still succeeds in most cases and even displays a remarkable robustness – quite in contrast to the majority of extant natural language applications.
The reason for this is that in processing an ambiguous utterance humans also integrate information from sources other than the utterance itself and thus access extrasentential knowledge which results in improved disambiguation accuracy. This extrasentential knowledge can be obtained from sensory input, e. g., via cross-modal perception, or can already be present in the form of context knowledge or world knowledge.

While a range of studies have systematically investigated the impact of discourse context and world-knowledge upon structural disambiguation in human sentence processing, there are surprisingly few investigations into the effect of cross-modal context upon sentence processing. To the best of our knowledge there are no attempts at present to model the integration of cross-modal context computationally.

We hypothesise that integrating cross-modal context into syntactic constraint dependency parsing will improve the accuracy of structural ambiguity resolution in context-sensitive cases such as German PP attachment. To prove our point we will create a suitable representation of cross-modal context and study the effect of its integration into an existing constraint-based parser for German.

Short Biography

Pat McCrae successfully completed his PhD in the Natural Language System Group NATS at the Department of Informatics of Hamburg University in July 2010. He also holds a BA Mod in chemistry from Trinity College Dublin, a Croatian Language Diploma from Zagreb University and an MLitt with merit in linguistics from the University of Sydney.

Prior to commencing his PhD studies, Pat spent six years working for IBM's Center for Solution Innovation in Hamburg as a senior information architect and usability consultant. With the completion of his PhD, Pat entered the market place and founded LangTec, a full-service agency for language technology and software localisation.

LangTec's core offerings comprise the application of machine learning techniques to semantic text- and data-mining challenges as well as the development of text mining solutions integrating semantic domain knowledge (ontologies) and textual inference into and natural language processing (NLP). LangTec's home page is located at

Research Interests

  • The Interaction between Vision and Language
  • The Syntax-Semantics Interface
  • Human Sentence Processing
  • Text Parsing and Understanding
  • The Influence of Context upon Natural Language Understanding
  • Cross-Modal Communication
  • Constraint-Based Parsing
  • Semantic Web


Book Chapters

Foth, Kilian, McCrae, Patrick, Menzel, Wolfgang (2014):
Extending Constraint Satisfaction for better Language Processing
Chapter II.6 in: Constrains and Language. Blache, P., et al. (Editors). Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
posted 08 August 2014

Conference Proceedings and Presentations

McCrae, Patrick, Menzel, Wolfgang, Sun, Maosong (2011):
A Computational Model of Concept Generalisation in Cross-Modal Reference
posted 06 September 2010
In: Special issue 'Information Sensing and Processing in Artificial Cognitive Systems' of the Journal of Tsinghua Science and Technology, Vol. 16 (2), pp. 113-120.
McCrae, Patrick (2010):
A Computational Model for the Influence of Cross-Modal Context upon Syntactic Parsing (PhD Thesis)
 posted 12 October 2010
The thesis is available for download on the document server of the State and University Library Hamburg:
McCrae, Patrick (2010):
Conceptual Structure as Mediator in a Computational Model for Vision-Language Interaction
posted 30 August 2010
Accepted for presentation at the Biannual Conference of
the German Society for Cognitive Science.
03 - 06 October 2010, Potsdam (Germany).
McCrae, Patrick (2010):
A Computational Model of Vision-Language Interaction Based on Conceptual Structure

posted 30 August 2010
Accepted for presentation at the Conference on Conceptual
Structure, Discourse and Language.
16 - 19 September 2010, San Diego, USA.
McCrae, Patrick (2009):
icon A Model for the Cross-Modal Influence of Visual Context upon Language Processing

posted 27 July 2009
Proceedings of the Conference Recent Advances in Natural Language Processing 2009.
RANLP 2009. Borovets (Bulgaria), 14 - 16 September 2009.
McCrae, Patrick (2009):
icon How Reasoning Achieves Context Integration into Syntactic Parsing

posted 28 May 2009
Proceedings of the Intelligent Linguistic Technologies Conference 2009. CSREA Press.
ILINTEC 09. Las Vegas (USA), 13 - 16 July 2009.
McCrae, Patrick & Foth, Kilian & Menzel, Wolfgang (2008):
Modelling Global Phenomena with Extended
Local Constraints

posted 28 Apr 2008
Proceedings of the 5th International Workshop on Constraints and Language Processing.
CSLP 2008. Hamburg (Germany); 11 - 15 August 2008.

McCrae, Patrick (2007):
"Integrating Cross-Modal Context for
PP Attachment Disambiguation"

posted 15 Jun 2007

Proceedings of Third International Conference on Natural Computation, Vol. 3,
pp. 292 - 296.
Publisher: IEEE.
ICNC'07. Haikou (Hainan), China; 24 - 27 August 2007.


McCrae, Patrick & Menzel, Wolfgang (2007):
"Towards a System Architecture for Integrating Cross-Modal Context in Syntactic Disambiguation"

posted 24 Apr 2007
Proceedings of NLPCS 2007 – Fourth International Workshop on Natural Language Processing and Cognitive Science, pp. 228 - 237. Edited by: Bernadette Sharp and Michael Zock.
Publisher: INSTICC Press.
NLPCS 2007. Funchal-Madeira, Portugal; 12 - 13 June 2007.


Internal Documents

icon CINACS Journal Club Presentation 23 Feb 09

posted 23 Feb 2009
icon CINACS Symposium Sylt 2009:
Reasoning at the Vision-Language Interface

posted 02 Feb 2009
icon CINACS Symposium Sylt 2009:
Common Findings and Future Research Topics

posted 02 Feb 2009
icon Symbol Grounding and Anchoring Presentation

posted 05 Dec 2008
icon CINACS Summer School 2008 Presentation

posted 12 Sep 2008
 CINACS Summer School 2007 Presentation CINACS Journal Club Presentation

posted 18 Apr 2008
 CINACS Summer School 2007 Presentation CINACS Summer School 2007 Presentation posted 04 Sep 2007

NATS Oberseminar Presentation NATS Oberseminar Presentation

posted 19 Apr 2007

Project Presentation Project Presentation

posted 26 Jan 2007

A0 Project Poster A0 Project Poster

posted 18 Jan 2007
Research Proposal Research Proposal posted 21 Dec 2006






Events Attended

The 10th Biannual Meeting of the German Society for Cognitive Science KogWis 2010
Topic: Cognitive Science

 03 - 06 Oct 2010
Int'l Summer School on Neural Networks NN2010
Topic: Neural Network Applications, Data and Text Mining
Porto, Portugal

 12 - 16 Jul 2010
International Symposium Dimensions of Ambiguity
Topic: Ambiguity
Tübingen, Germany

 05 - 07 Nov 2009
Recent Advances in Natural Language Processing 2009
Topic: All aspects of natural language processing
Borovets, Bulgaria

14 - 16 Sep 2009
CINACS Symposium 2009
Topic: Cross-modal Communication
Sylt, Germany

30 Jan - 01 Feb 2009
3rd CINACS International Summer School 2008
Topic: Cross-modal Communication
Hamburg, Germany

04 - 14 Sep 2008
21st ESSLLI Summer School 2008
Topic: Logic, Language and Information
Hamburg, Germany

04 - 15 Aug 2008
9th International Multisensory Research Forum 2008
Topic: Multisensory interactions and cross-modal integration
Hamburg, Germany
16 - 19 Jun 2008

2nd CINACS International Summer School 2007
Topic: Cross-modal Communication
Beijing, China

03 - 15 Sep 2007

3rd International Conference on Natural Computation
ICNC 2007
Haikou, China

24 - 27 Aug 2007

4th Int'l Natural Language Processing Workshop
ICEIS 2007
Madeira, Portugal

12 - 13 Jun 2007

1st CINACS International Summer School 2006
Topic: Cross-modal Communication
Hamburg, Germany

15 - 29 Sep 2006

12th ELSNET Summer School 2006
Topic: Information Fusion in Natural Language Systems
Hamburg, Germany

03 - 14 Jul 2006


Last Updated ( Sunday, 29 March 2015 )