Robert F. Port

Robert F. Port

Professor Emeritus, Linguistics

Professor Emeritus, Computer Science


  • Ph.D., University of Connecticut, 1976

Professional experience

  • Postdoctoral Fellow, AT&T Bell Laboratories, 1982-83
  • Visiting Researcher, ATR Human Information Processing Laboratories, Kyoto, Japan, 1995
  • Acoustical Society of America
  • Linguistic Society of America
  • Psychonomics Society
  • Cognitive Science Society
  • Fellow, Institute for the Study of Human Capabilities, Indiana University
  • Member, African Studies Faculty, Indiana University

Research interests

Connectionist models of word perception

The primary focus of my work is problem of time and temporal patterns. Temporal patterns are a major problem for cognitive science since conventional symbolic models deal naturally only with static systems or with patterns specifiable in absolute durations (like milliseconds). Thus my research focuses on auditory pattern perception, speech and linguistics. I have addressed such topics as the temporal structure of words and phrases in English, Japanese, German, Arabic, etc. I am convinced that only models based on dynamical systems offer the right properties for handling time in a way that will be useful for an animal living in a physical world. Some kinds of connectionist models and other models based on differential equations have the right kind of dynamical properties. This work is compatible with a view of general cognition that is based on dynamical systems theory rather than symbol-based computational models.


The Auditory Cognition Laboratory has a wide variety of equipment for synthesis and processing acoustic signals. In addition to appropriate audio equipment (tape players, DAT, amplifiers, speakers, headphones, etc), the laboratory also has a number of SUN and Silicon Graphics workstations with software for sound synthesis and acoustic analysis of speech and other audio signals.

Dissertation committee service

Author: Hockema, S. A.
Dissertation title: Perception as Prediction (April 2004)
Committee: Gasser, M. (Co-Chair), Smith, L. (Co-Chair), Goldstone, R., Port, R., Hummel, J.

Author: Desai, R.
Dissertation title: Modeling Interaction of Syntax and Semantics in Language Acquisition (December 2002)
Committee: Gasser, M. (Co-Chair), Goldstone, R. (Co-Chair), Port, R., Smith, L.

Author: Gygi, B.
Dissertation title: Factors in the Identification of Environmental Sounds (July 2001)
Committee: Watson, C. S. (Co-Chair), Craig, J. C., Kidd, G. R., Port, R. F., Robinson, D. E. (Co-Chair)

Author: Rehling, J. A.
Dissertation title: Letter Spirit (Part Two): Modeling Creativity in A Visual Domain (July 2001)
Committee: Hofstadter, D. R. (Chair), Gasser, M., Goldstone, R., Port, R. F.

Author: Wagner, K.
Dissertation title: Simulation Models of Evolution: Communication And Cooperation (August 2000)
Committee: Gasser, M. (Chair), Leake, D., Port, R., Timberlake, W.

Author: Chemero, A. P.
Dissertation title: How to Be an Anti-Representationalist (April 1999)
Committee: Smith, B. C., Port, R. F. (Co-Chair), Dunn, J. M., Millikan, R. G., Gelder T. J. (Co-Chair)

Author: Erickson, M. A.
Dissertation title: Rules and Exemplar Representation in Category Learning (June 1999)
Committee: Kruschke, J. (Co-Chair), Shiffrin, R. (Co-Chair), Gasser, M., Port, R. F., Nosofsky, R. N.

Author: Marshall, J. B.
Dissertation title: Metacat: A Self-Watching Cognitive Architecture For Analogy-Making And High-Level Perception (November 1999)
Committee: Hofstadter, D. (Co-Chair), Friedman, D. (Co-Chair), Leake, D. B., Port, R. F.

Author: Scheutz, M.
Dissertation title: The Missing Link: Implementation And Realization of Communication in Computer And Cognitive Science (September 1999)
Committee: Smith, B. (Co-Chair), Gasser, M. (Co-Chair), Moss, L., Port, R.

Author: Nobel, P. A.
Dissertation title: Response Times in Recognition and Recall (April 1996)
Committee: Shiffrin, R. (Chair), Kruschke, J. K., Nosofsky, R. M., Port, R. F.

Author: Wang, K.
Dissertation title: Computerized Adaptive Testing: A Comparison of Item Response Theoretic Approach and Expert Systems Approaches in Polychotomous Grading (October 1996)
Committee: Frick, T. (Chair), Pershing, J., Port, R., Schwen, T.

Author: McGraw, G. E. Jr.
Dissertation title: Letter Spirit (Part One): Emergent High-Level Perception of Letters Using Fluid Concepts (September 1995)
Committee: Hofstadter, D. R. (Chair), Gasser, M. Goldstone, R., Port, R. F., Rawlins, G. J. E.

Author: Brady, Michael
Dissertation title: A Field-Based Artificial Neural Network w/ Cerebella Model for Complex Motor Sequence Learning (May 2012)
Committee:Beer, R. (Chair), Kewley-Port, D., Port, R., Bingham, G.
Cognitive science standalone student

Author: Goldberg, Joshua
Dissertation title: When, Not Where A Dynamical Field Theory of Infant Gaze (January 2009)
Committee: Gasser, M. (Co-Chair), Smith, L. (Co-Chair), Jones, S., Port, R., Schoner, G., Spencer, J.

Author: Kapatsinski, Vsevolod
Dissertation title: The Architecture of Grammar in Artificial Grammar Learning: Formal Biases in the Acquisition of Morphophonology and The Nature of the Learning Task (May 2009)
Committee: Pisoni, P. (Co-Chair), de Jong, K. (Co-Chair), Smith, L., Port, R.

Author: Lara-Dammer, Francisco
Dissertation title: Modeling Human Discoverativity in Geometry (December 2009)
Committee: Hofstadter, D. (Chair), Gasser, M., Leake, D., Moss, L., Port, R.

Author: Wilson, Andrew
Dissertation title: A Perception –Action Approach To Rhythmic Movement Coordination (August 2005)
Committee: Bingham, G. (Co-Chair), Busey, T. (Co-Chair), Pisoni, D., Port, R.