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Categories such as ANIMAL or FURNITURE are acquired at an early age and play an important role in processing, organizing, and conveying world knowledge. Theories of categorization largely agree that categories are characterized by features such as function or appearance and that feature and category acquisition go hand-in-hand, however previous work has considered these problems in isolation. We present the first model that jointly learns categories and their features. The set of features is shared across categories, and strength of association is inferred in a Bayesian framework. We approximate the learning environment with natural language text which allows us to evaluate performance on a large scale. Compared to highly engineered pattern-based approaches, our model is cognitively motivated, knowledge-lean, and learns categories and features which are perceived by humans as more meaningful.
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