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Mathieu Le Corre
My research program aims to characterize the nature of the conceptual building blocks of knowledge of the natural numbers and of the interface between knowledge of numbers and linguistic structure. Examples of basic questions that flow from this general paradigm are:
Are the earliest forms of knowledge of the natural numbers based on concepts similar to the ones used in mathematical theories of the foundations of numbers (e.g., sets, quantifiers, variables, recursion) or does the acquisition of these concepts involve a protracted reorganization of children’s thinking?
How much arithmetic is naturally encoded in language? For example, why do multiple languages from diverse language families use multiplication to create complex number words (e.g., “seven hundred”)? Is it because the concepts required for multiplication are innate? How difficult is it for children to learn that some combinations of number words mean that one number multiplies the other (e.g., that “seven hundred” means seven times one hundred)?
Different languages encode numerical information differently. For example, Chinese, unlike most languages, does not encode the difference between singular and plural. Does this affect the acquisition of concepts and words for the natural numbers?