My research is primarily in three areas:

As part of many of these research projects, I have also been involved in the open release of various data sets.

Semantics/pragmatics interface

This line of research explores how to model inferences in discourse, especially complex discourse structures such as question-response sequences, drawing on tools from formal pragmatics and logic. Sample recent papers in this area are: Biezma & Rawlins 2017; Bledin & Rawlins in press; Frana & Rawlins 2019; Bledin & Rawlins 2019; Srinivas & Rawlins to appear.

  1. Biezma, María & Kyle Rawlins. 2017. Or what? Semantics & Pragmatics (Early Access) 10. DOI: 10.3765/sp.10.16
  2. Bledin, Justin & Kyle Rawlins. 2019. What if? Semantics & Pragmatics (Early Access) 12(14). DOI: 10.3765/sp.12.14
  3. Bledin, Justin & Kyle Rawlins. in press. Resistance and Resolution in Discourse. Journal of Semantics.
  4. Frana, Ilaria & Kyle Rawlins. 2019. Attitudes in discourse: Italian polar questions and the particle ‘mica.’ Semantics & Pragmatics (Early Access) 12(16). DOI: 10.3765/sp.12.16
  5. Srinivas, Sadhwi & Kyle Rawlins. to appear. An experimental investigation of the role of uniqueness and familiarity in interpreting definite descriptions. In Nari Rhee & Ryan Budnick (eds.), Proceedings of PLC 43, Vol. 26.

Compositional and lexical semantics

Much of my work involves compositional semantics, lexical semantics, and the interface between the two. This heading covers a relatively diverse set of projects, but two long-running interests are the semantics of conditionals and related constructions, and the compositional semantics and lexical representation of predicates that embed clauses, such as attitude verbs and communication predicates. I’ve also worked quite a bit on argument structure. Sample recent papers covering these topics that come from a more theoretical linguistics approach include: (missing reference)

    I’ve also been heavily involved in projects that attempt to incorporate large-scale (for linguistics) data sets collected via crowd-sourcing, with the aim of assessing linguistic theories in this kind of data. These projects often involve computational modeling. Recent samples: Reisinger et al. 2015; White & Rawlins 2016; White & Rawlins 2018; Kim et al. 2019. See also the MegaAttitude Project. This research overlaps heavily with my work on computational semantics.

    1. Kim, Najoung, Kyle Rawlins, Benjamin Van Durme & Paul Smolensky. 2019. Predicting argumenthood of English preposition phrases. In Proceedings of the 33rd AAAI conference on Artificial Intelligence (AAAI-2019), 6578–6585. DOI: 10.1609/aaai.v33i01.33016578
    2. Reisinger, D., Frank Ferraro, Craig Harman, Rachel Rudinger, Kyle Rawlins & Benjamin Van Durme. 2015. Semantic proto-roles. Transactions of the ACL 3. 475–488. DOI: 10.1162/tacl_a_00152
    3. White, Aaron Steven & Kyle Rawlins. 2016. A computational model of S-selection. In Mary Moroney, Carol-Rose Little, Jacob Collard, & Dan Burgdorf (eds.), Proceedings of SALT 26, 641–663. DOI: 10.3765/salt.v26i0.3819
    4. White, Aaron Steven & Kyle Rawlins. 2018. The role of veridicality and factivity in clause selection. In Sherry Hucklebridge & Max Nelson (eds.), Proceedings of NELS 48, Download:

    Computational semantics and natural language understanding

    I am interested in the ways in which linguistic theory can be applied to computational semantics and natural language understanding. I have often pursued this in the context of the collaborative Decompositional Semantics Initiative, which aims to apply ideas about decomposing meanings towards natural language understanding. This research heavily overlaps with the more linguistically-applied computational reserach mentioned above. Samples: Reisinger et al. 2015; White et al. 2016; White, Rawlins & Van Durme 2017; White et al. 2018

    1. Reisinger, D., Frank Ferraro, Craig Harman, Rachel Rudinger, Kyle Rawlins & Benjamin Van Durme. 2015. Semantic proto-roles. Transactions of the ACL 3. 475–488. DOI: 10.1162/tacl_a_00152
    2. White, Aaron Steven, Kyle Rawlins & Benjamin Van Durme. 2017. The semantic proto-role linking model. In Proceedings of the European chapter of the Association for Computational Linguistics, 92–98. ACL. Download:
    3. White, Aaron Steven, D. Reisinger, Keisuke Sakaguchi, Tim Vieira, Sheng Zhang, Rachel Rudinger, Kyle Rawlins & Benjamin Van Durme. 2016. Universal decompositional semantics on universal dependencies. In Proceedings of the 2016 conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, 1713–1723. ACL. DOI: 10.18653/v1/D16-1177
    4. White, Aaron Steven, Rachel Rudinger, Kyle Rawlins & Benjamin Van Durme. 2018. Lexicosyntactic Inference in Neural Models. In Proceedings of the 2018 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing, 4717–4724. Association for Computational Linguistics. Download:


    Here are several past projects that don’t quite fit with the above research lines.

    On mathematically characterizing the properties of natural languages: Pullum & Rawlins 2007.

    The prosody of Iroquoian languages, focusing on the stress/epenthesis interaction in Mohawk: Rawlins 2006.

    1. Pullum, Geoffrey & Kyle Rawlins. 2007. Argument or no Argument? Linguistics and Philosophy 30. 277–287. DOI: 10.1007/s10988-007-9013-y
    2. Rawlins, Kyle. 2006. Stress and Epenthesis in Mohawk. UCSC Linguistics Qualifying Paper. Download: