Marco Baroni

Marco Baroni

Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Social & Behavioural Sciences

Marco Baroni received a PhD in Linguistics from the University of California, Los Angeles, in the year 2000. After several experiences in research and industry, he joined the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences of the University of Trento, where he became associate professor in 2013. In 2016, Marco joined the Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research team. In 2019, he became ICREA research professor, affiliated with the Linguistics Department of Pompeu Fabra University in Barcelona. Marco's work in the areas of multimodal and compositional distributed semantics has received widespread recognition, including a Google Research Award, an ERC Starting Grant, and the ICAI-JAIR best paper prize and the ACL test of time award. Marco's current research focuses on emergent communication in communities of deep-learning-trained artificial neural networks. In 2021, he was awarded an ERC Advanced Grant to work on this topic.

Research interests

Current deep-learning-trained artificial neural networks ("deep nets") have revolutionized AI, but they are highly specialized devices, each optimized to solve a specific task. Taking inspiration from communities of human experts, that can solve problems together by collaborating through language, I want to teach specialized deep nets to communicate with each other in order to solve complex tasks. The key insight is that it would be hopeless to specify an exhaustive communication protocol for deep nets by hand. By relying on their strong learning capabilities, I let them instead evolve their own protocol by exposing them to joint tasks which they can only solve by cooperating through communication, and I study the characteristics of this emergent protocol.

Selected publications

- Baroni M 2022. On the proper role of linguistically-oriented deep net analysis in linguistic theorizing. In Lappin & Bernardy (eds.), Algebraic Structures in Natural Language (ISBN 9781003205388), Taylor & Francis.

- Dessì R, Gualdoni E, Franzon F, Boleda G & Baroni M 2022, 'Communication breakdown: On the low mutual intelligibility between human and neural captioning', Proceedings of EMNLP 2022 (2022 Conference on Empirical Methods in Natural Language Processing).

- Ruest O, Baroni M & Stoll S 3033, The acquisition of case systems in typologically diverse languages: Children gradually generalize grammatical rules. Proceedings of BUCLD 46 (46th annual Boston University Conference on Language Development), online at (paper proceedings can be ordered).  

Selected research activities

- invited talk at the 5th Workshop on Emergent Communication (virtual)

- invited "Big New Idea" talk at ACL 2022 (Dublin, Ireland)

- keynote at COLING 2022 (Gyeongju, Rep. of Korea)

- co-taught tutorial at EMNLP 2022 (Abu Dhabi, UAE)

- external PhD examiner Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences, University of Southampton (UK)

- external habilitation evaluator for University Paul Sabatier Toulouse III (France)

- external promotion evaluator for the University of Leeds (UK)