Where Sanskrit meets computer science

ByAlyssa R. Elliott

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Proving the compatibility of Science and Sastras, Dr. P. Ramanujan headed a venture on ‘Computational Rendering of Paninian Grammar’.

Proving the compatibility of Science and Sastras, Dr. P. Ramanujan headed a challenge on ‘Computational Rendering of Paninian Grammar’.

(This is the final of the two-section short article on Dr. P. Ramanujan’s get the job done on computer and Sanskrit. The very first aspect appeared in Friday Evaluation on March 13 and the backlink is>https://www.thehindu.com/characteristics/friday-evaluate/access-the-sastras-by way of-the-personal computer/article6986130.ece)

In the early 1900s, analytic philosophers such as Russell and to begin with Wittgenstein much too, experimented with to create synthetic languages, which, compared with everyday language, would present them with a far more sensible grammar, and terms with unambiguous meanings. Language was a main preoccupation for afterwards analytic philosophers these as Austin much too, even though he felt regular language itself would provide the goal of the philosopher.

Speaking about generative grammar, linguist Noam Chomsky explained that grammar books do not exhibit how to generate even straightforward sentences, without the need of depending on the implicit expertise of the speaker. He stated this is accurate even of grammars of “great scope” like Jespersen’s ‘A Modern day English Grammar on Historic Concepts.’ There is some “unconscious knowledge” that would make it attainable for a speaker to “use his language.” This unconscious understanding is what generative grammar ought to render explicit. Chomsky claimed there were classical precedents for generative grammar, Panini’s grammar staying the “most well known and important circumstance.”

Walter Eugene Clark, who was Professor of Sanskrit at Harvard College, and who translated Aryabhatta’s Aryabhatiya into English, wrote that “Panini’s grammar is the earliest scientific grammar in the world, and 1 of the greatest.” He claimed the “Indian study of language was as aim as the dissection of the overall body by an anatomist.”

Not shockingly, there are researchers who review Paninian grammar, with a see to seeing what software they have in the location of All-natural Language Processing (NLP) investigation.

Dr. P. Ramanujan, Programme Co-ordinator, Indian Heritage Team- C-DAC, Bengaluru, is an authority on Paninian grammar. With a tuft, a namam on his brow and a classic dhoti, he doesn’t search like a standard scientist. Ramanujan is proof that standard education and learning need not stand in the way of a occupation in science, for it is his conventional mastering which has brought him to in which he is currently.

Educated from the age of three by his father, Ghanapadi Parankusachar Swami, Ramanujan finished his study of the 4000 verses of the Divya Prabandham by the age of 11. Soon after his upanayanam, Vedic experiments began. But he also had to go to frequent university, so that he had an pretty much 24-hour tutorial engagement, studying one particular factor or the other.

A fantastic university student, Ramanujan wanted to develop into an engineer. But his father desired him to take up a work shortly, and so proposed he do a diploma study course. Soon after acquiring his diploma, Ramanujan joined HAL. Later on, he graduated in engineering, and did his Masters in Engineering from IISc, the place his thesis was on Development of a Standard Objective Sanskrit Parser.

What would make a study of Sanskrit valuable to a pupil of Computer system Science? “If a language has a lot of meanings for a word, it is ambiguous, but when Sanskrit has quite a few meanings for a term, it is abundant!” suggests Dr. Ramanujan, who headed a job on ‘Computational Rendering of Paninian Grammar.’

The richness of Sanskrit arrives from the point that anything is pre-determined and derivable. “There is a derivational approach, and so there is no ambiguity. You can clarify almost everything structurally. There is a foundation which means, a suffix this means and a combination which means. The foundation is the consistent part, and the suffix is the variable component. The variables are most strong. With suffixes one can highlight, modify or attenuate.”

Two different terms may well denote an object, but you just can’t use them interchangeably, for the useful part is what matters. For case in point you just cannot swap ‘Agni’ with ‘Vahni,’ for ‘Agni’ has its personal componential this means.

An object might be denoted by the base. An item can have sets of relationships and interactions with other matters in the environment. For case in point, ‘Rama’, in relation to other objects, may well be an agent of some action or the receiver etc. “Even the interactions have been codified properly and briefly. Clarity and brevity are the hallmarks of Panini’s do the job. His rule-dependent technique is his major as well as stage.”

Is not it real that in Sanskrit you never have to coin phrases for a new invention or discovery, and you can derive a word to accommodate the features of the item? “Yes. You have all the parts with you to derive a phrase.

You can use a number of suffixes, if need to have be, to show the unique operate of an item.”

Does meaning range according to accent? “It does. For the exact same suffix, different meanings are derivable mainly because of accent distinctions. So you have the Divine Couple, Jaganmatha and Jagathpitha. How do you demonstrate the distinction among our dad and mom for all time and our mother and father in this lifestyle on your own? Accent can help below. This is how the Vedas are most apt, and this has been thoroughly pointed out by Panini. “He gave us a conceptual, functional system. You just take an example, implement the principles and get clarity about what it signifies. So the structure is critical. The component method is significant.”

Wasn’t there an situation when the do the job of a Finnish scholar, who uncovered fault with Panini, was referred to you ? “The Finnish scholar mentioned that Panini was incorrect in some rules relating to Vedic grammar. ‘Let Lakaara’ is used only in the Vedas, and Panini wrote 5 sutras for it. The Finnish scholar felt Panini could have managed this in another way. George Cardona, from the University of Pennsylvania, referred him to me. I pointed out that Panini cannot be faulted internally. Immediately after all he established out a meta language initial. He said this is how I will create my rules. Externally, if you want, generate a grammar yourself. Several have attempted and no a person has been able to greater Panini.”

Have you included ‘Let Lakaara’ in your applications? “Yes, I have. ‘Let Lakaara’ is incredibly difficult, simply because 108 kinds can be generated theoretically for just about every root. N.S. Devanathachariar, Mimamsa Professor in Tirupati, appreciated my do the job.”

However, Dr. Bachchu Lal Awasthi, a Presidential awardee and a grammarian, felt that only as quite a few types as occur in the Vedas really should be produced. His objection was that one particular ought to use the Sutras to recognize what existed, but one particular should not use the Sutra to deliver the rest.

When Ramanujan explained that his system was performed mainly to present how the policies worked, Dr. Awasthi conceded that Ramanujan did have a position. “This just displays that people can be gained over, if we are capable to display the goal of anything.”