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Sept 2006 :: Lecture #1 :: Joe Lau :: Philosophy HKU
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About this course What is cognitive science? The computer model of the mind
About this course
About this course
Course coordinator Other teachers Course tutor Assessment 60% 2-hour final exam. 25% 5 problem sets; one for each topic. 10% tutorial participation. 5% tutorial attendance.
What is cognitive science?
Longuet-Higgins, H.C. (1973) Comments on the Lighthill report. Artificial Intelligence - A Paper Symposium. London: Science Research Council. By 1960 it was clear that something interdisciplinary was happening. At Harvard we called it cognitive studies, at CarnegieMellon they called in information-processing psychology, and at La Jolla they called it cognitive science. – George Miller.
What is cognitive science?
Cognitive science is the science of mind and behavior. How is it different from psychology?
Of or pertaining to cognition, or to the action or process of knowing (OED) Understanding knowledge acquisition and use is the key to understanding the mind.
Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
So what is cognitive science?
Cognitive science is a scientific study of the mind with special emphasis on the use and acquisition of knowledge and information. Implications
An inter-disciplinary approach – Many scientific disciplines contribute to cognitive science. A computational approach – Explain information processing in terms of neural computations.
Information processing everywhere
acquiring real-time information about the surrounding environment. making use of information about syntax, semantics and phonology. combining different sources of information, deriving new information, testing consistency of information, etc. making use of information in action planning and guidance. storing and retrieving information
This is one reason why cognitive science is inter-disciplinary.
Explaining information processing
What is the best explanation of why a system is capable of complex information processing? Answer: The system is a computer.
Why there was no cognitive science
They didn’t think that knowledge is the key.
Perhaps it is a special substance? (Dualism) Perhaps it is stimulus-response? (Behaviorism) Small stupid steps combine to do difficult things.
They didn’t know about computers.
A useful short history: http://ls.berkeley.edu/ugis/cogsci/major/about.php
VIP #1 Cognitive science is about how the mind processes information.
What is special about cognitive science?
Focuses on knowledge and information as the key to understanding the mind.
Interdisciplinary Computational approach Special relevance to IT and AI Individualistic Multi-level explanations
More on the computer model of the mind
Quiz: What is a computer?
(a) A person (b) A machine
What is computation?
Rule-based manipulation of symbols.
S = str_replace( “cat” , ”c” , ”h” )
17x11=? Philosophy 哲學 170 17 187
A program is like a cooking recipe
Computational explanation of information processing in the mind
Thinking that P = activating a set of symbols in the brain which mean P.
Is-in-love Peter Is-happy
Symbols in the mind = mental / neural representation
Topographical representation of visual stimulus in visual area V1
Representations explain lots of things
Example: Syntactic Disambiguation
“We shall discuss violence on TV.” Two interpretations :
VP VP PP P NP V discuss N NP PP NP TV
violence on TV
violence P on
Two methodological consequences of the computer model
Computer models can be built to test theories of mental processes. There are different levels of analysis for a complex information processing system.
Three Levels of Description (David Marr)
A complete understanding of a computational system has to involve three (kinds of) levels : Computational theory
What is computed and why. What the system is capable of doing.
Representation and algorithm (software)
What program is used. What are the symbols and how are they processed. Where in the brain? What kind of neurons and how are they connected?
Task: Multiplication. Input numbers x and y. Output x times y. Algorithm: Given inputs x and y, look up number z on row x and column y. Output z. Implementation: human being and paper.
How to calculate x times y:
If x =1, then answer is y. If x>1, add y to itself (x-1) number of times. The result is the answer. Example: 3x5 = 5+5+5 = 15
The same task can be performed with different algorithms.
Two different systems can do the same task in very different ways.
The same algorithm can be implemented with different hardware.
How to study cognitive science
computational theory of X should explain X at three levels.
What is computed? Visual motion How? Correlate changes in luminance at different places. Hardware? Comparator circuits
Application: linguistic understanding
Identify syntax and meaning corresponding to speech sounds.
VP V discuss NP N violence on TV PP P NP
What kind of computation and mental representations? Which part of the brain?
Division of labour
Psychology – cognitive psychology, developmental psychology … Linguistics – syntax, semantics, phonology … Neuroscience – brain structures, localization … Computer science – AI, computer models … Philosophy – theoretical foundations …
How to think about cognitive science
Language Task Algorithm Hardware Vision Reasoning Other areas
If you get lost
mental process? level?
Language, reasoning, emotions, … Task, algorithm, neural implementation
Cognitive science is an inter-disciplinary science of mind and behavior. The computational approach : using computations and representations to explain mental processes. Three levels of descriptions. Coming up next: language as an example.