Adina Williams


You can view my CV here (updated 3/19).

I am a postdoctoral researcher in linguistics at FAIR NYC (as of Oct. 2018).

As a highly interdisciplinary researcher, I specialize in semantics, syntax, and their interface, with neurolinguistics, computational linguistics, and formal linguistic theory as my main methodologies. Theoretical linguistic insights form the bases for my hypotheses about grammatical representations in the mind and computer. I defended my PhD in Linguistics at New York University in Apr. 2018, and it conferred in September 2018; it is  Representing Relationality: MEG Studies of Argument Structure, and includes 3 experimental chapters (MEG), and a chapter on classifying words as transitive-intransitive using only their orthographic forms.

I recently released a crowd-sourced collection of sentence pairs (433k) annotated with textual entailment information for use in NLP and Machine Learning applications (Multi-genre Natural Language Inference; MultiNLI). MultiNLI formed the basis of shared task (RepEval 2017 Workshop); training and test data is available on Kaggle as part of an indefinitely open evaluation (for both matched and mismatched subsets). MultiNLI is also the basis for XNLI, which extends the development and test sets of MultiNLI to 15 languages, and enables evaluation of cross-lingual understanding and transfer, and is one of the larger datasets included in the General Language Understanding Evaluation (GLUE) Benchmark.



  • Topic: Syntax-Semantics Interface
  • Methodologies: Computational & Experimental Approaches to Linguistics


  • Brain Basis of Syntactic and Semantic Processing 
    • Argument Structure and Event Structure
    • Syntactic Category
    • Representations of Number
  • Natural Language Understanding 
    • Universal Sentence Representations
    • Natural Language Inference, Crowd-sourcing for NLP
    • Evaluating syntactic representations induced from TreeRNNs that perform semantic tasks
  • Semantics of Inflectional Morphology 
    • Number Interpretation, Marking, and Countability
    • Prepositional and Verbal Aspect
    • Bare Singulars and Weak Definites
  • Syntax & Semantics of Mandarin Chinese
    • Morpho-semantics of aspect (micro-parametric syntactic variation)
    • Classifiers and countability
  • Information theoretic approaches to quantifying arbitrariness in the noun phrase
    • “Arbitrariness” of Mandarin Chinese classifier-noun associations
    • Grammatical gender in inanimate nouns
    • Cross-lingual semantic typology