Chen Yu

Chen Yu

Adjunct Professor, Cognitive Science

Professor, Psychological and Brain Sciences


  • Ph.D. 2004 University of Rochester, Computer Science

Research interests

My research focuses on understanding human development and learning through both empirical studies and computational models with the hope to get a more complete picture. I am particularly interested in how language is grounded in sensorimotor experience and how language development depends on complex interactions among brain, body and environment. Based on computational models of human language acquisition and findings from empirical studies, my passion is to build anthropomorphic machines that learn and use language in human-like ways.

Representative publications

Infants rapidly learn word-referent mappings via cross-situational statistics (2008)
Linda Smith and Chen Yu
Cognition, 106 (3), 1558-1568

Rapid word learning under uncertainty via cross-situational statistics (2007)
Chen Yu and Linda B Smith
Psychological Science, 18 (5), 414

Embodied attention and word learning by toddlers (2012)
Chen Yu and Linda B Smith
Cognition, 125 (2), 244-262

The role of embodied intention in early lexical acquisition (2005)
Chen Yu, Dana H Ballard and Richard N Aslin
Cognitive Science, 29 (6), 961-1005

A unified model of early word learning: Integrating statistical and social cues (2007)
Chen Yu and Dana H Ballard
Neurocomputing, 70 (13-15), 2149-2165

A multimodal learning interface for grounding spoken language in sensory perceptions (2004)
Chen Yu and Dana H Ballard
ACM Transactions on Applied Perception (TAP), 1 (1), 57-80

Joint attention without gaze following: Human infants and their parents coordinate visual attention to objects through eye-hand coordination (2013)
Chen Yu and Linda B Smith
PloS one, 8 (11), e79659

Not your mother’s view: The dynamics of toddler visual experience (2011)
Linda B Smith, Chen Yu and Alfredo F Pereira
Developmental science, 14 (1), 17-Sep

Lending a hand: Detecting hands and recognizing activities in complex egocentric interactions (2015)
Sven Bambach, Stefan Lee, David J Crandall and Chen Yu

What you learn is what you see: using eye movements to study infant cross‐situational word learning (2011)
Chen Yu and Linda B Smith
Developmental Science, 14 (2), 165-180

A bottom-up view of toddler word learning (2014)
Alfredo F Pereira, Linda B Smith and Chen Yu
Psychonomic bulletin & review, 21 (1), 178-185

Modeling Cross-Situational Word-Referent Learning: Prior Questions (2012)
Chen Yu and Linda Smith
Psychological Review, 119 (1), 21-39

Detecting user engagement in everyday conversations (2004)
Chen Yu, Paul M Aoki and Allison Woodruff
arXiv preprint cs/0410027,

On the integration of grounding language and learning objects (2004)
Chen Yu and Dana H Ballard
AAAI, 4 488-493

Statistical word learning at scale: The baby's view is better (2013)
Daniel Yurovsky, Linda B Smith and Chen Yu
Developmental science, 16 (6), 959-966

Dissertation Committee Service

Author Dissertation Title Committee
Anderson, Joseph Walking to Reach: Binocular Disparity Matching and The Tau Hypothesis (January 2009) Bingham, G. (Co-Chair), Busey, T., Yu, C. (Co-Chair), Candy, R.
Johns, Brendan Language in Memory: Modeling the Influence of Linguistic Structure on Processing (August 2012) Jones, M. (Chair), Todd, P., Shiffrin, R., Yu, C.
Kachergis, George Earle Mechanisms for Cross-Situational Learning of Word-Referent Mappings: Empirical and Modeling Evidence (December 2012) Shiffrin, R. (Co-Chair), Yu, C. (Co-Chair), Goldstone, R., Jones, M., Kruschke, J.
Kadihasanoglu, Didem An Evolutionary Robotics Approach to Visually-Guided Braking: Data and Theory (October 2012) Beer, R. (Chair), Bingham, G., Busey, T., Yu, C.
Klein, Krystal Vocabulary Acquisition via Cross-Situational Learning (December 2009) Yu, C. (Chair), Shiffrin, R., James, K., Smith, L.
Riordan, Brian Comparing Semantic Space Models Using Child-directed Speech (March 2007) Gasser, M. (Co-Chair), Jones, M. (Co-Chair), Kubler, S., Yu, C.
Schrementi, Giancarlo Language in the Balance: Factors in the Emergence of Compositional Communication (June 2011) Gasser, M. (Co-Chair), Leake, D. (Co-Chair), Yaeger, L., Yu, C.
Sheya, Adam Coordinating Location and Object Properties in Goal-Directed Action: A Case of Self-Generated Developmental Change (November 2009) Smith, L. (Co-Chair), Beer, R. (Co-Chair), Sporns, O., Yu, C.
Son, Ji Y. Forces of Contextualization and Decontextualization: A Look at Symbols, Experience, and Language (August 2007) Goldstone, R. (Co-Chair), Smith, L (Co-Chair), Gasser, M., Yu, C.
Yurovsky, Daniel Mechanisms of Statistical Word Learning (September 2012) Yu, C. (Co-Chair), Smith, L. (Co-Chair), Shiffrin, R., Jones, S., Busemeyer, J.,