After undergraduate training in mathematics and computer science, I went on to get a PhD in psychology and have spent the last ten years or so using computational models grounded in Bayesian statistics to conduct rigorous, data-driven investigations into the human mind and human history, with evolutionary perspectives on language and culture as a unifying theme. My work is increasingly interdisciplinary, and I haven't always worn the same hat as I've moved between affiliations: I've worked closely with archaeologists, cognitive scientists, ecologists, geneticists, geographers and linguists.
In the middle of 2017, I joined the BEDLAN project at the University of Turku. As part of an interdisciplinary team lead by Outi Vesakoski I have been applying and developing methods for building a "holistic" understanding of the history of the Uralic language family and its speakers.
In early 2014, I became a Postdoctoral Scholar at the Language, Cognition and Culture Lab at the University of Auckland. I worked with Quentin Atkinson, Russell Gray and others on large-scale computational language phylogenetics.
In late 2011, I became a Postdoctoral Scholar working in the Computational Cognitive Science Lab at the University of California, Berkeley. I mostly worked with Tom Griffiths on problems related to how human languages change over time, but also with Michael Pacer and Andrew Whalen on questions surrounding cultural transmission and learning.
I got my PhD at the University of Adelaide between 2008 and 2011. My supervisors were Dan Navarro and Amy Perfors. My PhD thesis tried to develop psychological explanations for why different languages use different word orders and why the word order of languages change over time. This work involved taking an information-theoretic perspective on language and asking what is the optimal way to convey, over a noisy serial channel, information about a world whose going-ons have statistical structure which is known by both communicating agents.
Before getting into CompCogSci, I completed an honours degree in Pure Mathematics at Adelaide. I was most interested in computational number theory and algebra, particularly applications to cryptography. I wrote my honours thesis on cryptographic applications of discrete logarithms. I had planned to go on to do PhD research on lattice-based cryptography, but life had other plans.
- Maurits, L., de Heer, M., Honkolta, T., Dunn, M., Vesakoski, O. (under review) Best practices in justifying calibrations for dating language families. Journal of Language Evolution.
- Maurits, L., Forkel, R., Kaiping, G. A., Atkinson, Q. D. (2017) BEASTling: A software tool for linguistic phylogenetics using BEAST 2. PLOS ONE.
- Maurits, L. & Griffiths, T. (2014). Tracing the roots of syntax with Bayesian phylogenetics. PNAS (supporting information, webpage)
- Whalen, A., Maurits, L., Pacer, M., Griffiths, T. L. (2014) Cultural evolution with sparse testimony: When does the cultural ratchet slip?. In Proceedings of the 36th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society
- Maurits, L. & Griffiths, T. (2012). Connecting input filtering and selection in language evolution [Abstract] (note that this is not a refereed publication). In N. Miyake, D. Peebles, & R. P. Cooper (Eds.), Proceedings of the 34th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (p. 2779). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
- Maurits, L., Perfors, A., Navarro, D. (2010) Why are some word orders more common than others? A uniform information density account. Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems, 23 (pp. 1585-1593). (supplementary material)
- Maurits, L., Perfors, A., Navarro, D. (2009) Joint acquisition of word order and word reference. In N.A. Taatgen & H. van Rijn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 1728-1733). Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society
- Maurits, L., Perfors, A., Navarro, D. Mutual constraint in Bayesian learning of word reference and word meaning. Presented by me at the Australian Mathematical Psychology Conference 2009.