Course Homepage - Fall 2000

Time: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 9:00 A.M. - 10:20 A.M.
Place: Adamson Wing, Baker Hall 136A
Bboard: academic.psy.85-711

Professor: Herbert A. Simon
(BH 339, ext. 8-2787)
Teaching Assistant: Ken Kwok
Tuedays 10.30 - 12.30 pm (BH 455B, ext. 8-8113)
Fridays 1.00 - 2.00 pm (MI 110C, ext. 8-4567)
Other times by appointment
Executive Assistant: Janet New Hilf
(BH 339, ext. 8-2801)



This course is no longer being conducted.

Professor Herbert A. Simon, 
winner of the 1978 Nobel Prize in Economics and many prestigious
international scientific awards for his work in cognitive psychology
and computer science, died Feb. 9, 2001 at the age of 84.

  • Course Introduction
  • Syllabus/Schedule
  • Reading List
  • Homework Assignments
  • Class Notes/References/Past Exams
  • Project Resources
  • Other Links



    Course Introduction

    This course provides a graduate-level introduction to human cognitive processes, treated from an information- processing point of view. As other courses emphasize neurophysiology and simple cognitive processes, this course will emphasize problem solving and other complex tasks, and the organization of the cognitive system, viewed at the symbolic level.

    In this course, you will be expected to acquire (1) a knowledge of contemporary theory of how people think and learn by processing symbols, and the empirical evidence supporting (or challenging) the theory, and (2) some fundamental research skills useful for exploring these questions. In addition to skills of designing and carrying out standard laboratory experiments, you will have opportunities to acquire and practice skills (a) of using and constructing computer programs to simulate human cognitive processes and (b) of obtaining and analyzing verbal thinking-aloud protocols as an important source of data for cognitive studies.

    Three main threads run through the course simultaneously: (1) the contemporary theory of human cognition and its empirical base, (2) task environments for studying cognition and (3) methods for modeling behavior and securing empirical data. The course is organized mainly along the first thread. The sequence of major topics is shown on the following schedule.



    * [bracketed] readings are optional.

    General Introduction
    A.  Overview: Approaches to Cognition
                Sciences of the Artificial (SofA), Ch. 1;
                *[Simon & Kaplan, Foundations, 
                Secs 1.1-1.3, 1.5 thru p. 31, pp. 37-44];
                Newell & Simon [N&S], Ch. 2;
                *[N&S, Historical addendum]
    B.  Issues:
            Functional v. process interpretation of systems
            Serial/parallel; symbolic/non-symbolic
            Social context of cognition
            Empirical methods
    C.  Production systems as notation
    D.  Protocol analysis as experimental tool
    E.  Computers and brains are physical symbol systems
    Architecture: Introductory View
    A.  Overall model: Structure and process
                Simon I:2.3;  *[Card et al., ch. 2]; 
                Richman, et al. (1995)
    B.  STM
                Simon II:2.4, *[I:2.2]; *[Baddeley] 
    C.  LTM/Epam
                *[Simon, I:3.2],*[Feigenbaum & Simon, II.3.4]
    Problem Solving in Knowledge-Lean Domains
     A. Theory of problem solving
                  SofA, ch. 3
        1. Problem spaces: *[N&S, Ch.3]
        2. Heuristic search: *[N&S, Ch.4]
    B. Protocol Analysis:  Ericsson & Simon, 1980,
                *[N&S. Ch.6] 
    C. Models:  List structures, strategies
        1.  Missionaries and Cannibals: 
                *[Jeffries et al., Simon & Reed, I:4.6]
        2.  Tower of Hanoi: Simon I:4.5
        3.  Cryptarithmetic: *[N&S, Ch.5-7 (esp. 7)]
    D. Problem Understanding
        1.  Understanding algebra word problems: 
                Simon I:4.4
        2.  Understanding Tower of Hanoi Isomorphs:
                Simon I:7.1, *[II:4.8]
        3.  Understanding physics word problems: 
    E.  Theory of human problem solving: N&S, Ch.14
    Skill Acquisition: Learning
                SofA, Chap. 4.
    A.  Practice effects:  speedup and automation
                *[Newell & Rosenbloom]; *[Schneider & Shiffrin]
    B.  Learning in EPAM (review)
    C.   Learning in production systems
        1.  Learning from doing: Simon II:3.2
        2.  Learning from examples: Simon II:3.5
        3.  Learning from recipes: *[Anderson 1982]
    D.   Rote and meaningful learning

    Expert-Novice Differences
                SofA, Chaps. 5 and 6 
    A.  Perceptual chunking in chess: Simon I:6.4
    B.  Expert memory:  *[Richman et al., 1996]
    C.  Chunking in physics: 
                Simon II:4.3, *[Larkin, et al., II:4.5] 
    D.  Children as "novices": *[Siegler]

    Overview of Architecture for Problem Solving, Memory and Perception 
    A. "Unified" models:  EPAM + GPS, ACT, SOAR, PDP
    B. Connecting with neurophysiology
    C.  Parameters: N&S, Ch.14; Richman et al. (1995)
    D. Decomposability:  SofA, Chapters 7 and 8
    Representation and Imagery
                Simon II:6.3; Kaplan & Simon (1990); 
                Qin & Simon 1995; Tabachneck, Leonardo & Simon 1994
    Concept Attainment
    A.  Overall framework: Simon I:5.5
    B.  Sequential Patterns: Simon I:5.2, 
                *[Gregg & Simon, I:5.4]
    Scientific Discovery
                SofA, pp. 105-110 
                Langley, Zytkow, Simon & Bradshaw; 
                * [Bradshaw, Langley & Simon]; Simon II:5.3
                Qin & Simon, 1990
      *** TERM PROJECT DUE DECEMBER 12 ***  
    * [bracketed] readings are optional.


    Reading List

    The principal textbooks for the course are Simon, "The Sciences of the Artificial, 3rd Edition", and a volume of selected research papers, both available in the bookstore.  The library has copies of Newell and Simon, "Human Problem Solving", and Simon, "Models of Thought", Volumes I and II, which will also be referred to extensively.

    The readings indicated in the schedule refer mainly to the textbooks but also to some articles from the literature.  They deal with the main substantive topics we shall discuss as well as the principal empirical and modeling techniques used in cognitive research.  Optional readings are marked with an asterisk (*).  Other readings will be recommended from time to time.

    For an elaborated listing of the required readings click here.  A listing of additional readings can be found here.


    Homework Assignments

    The theories of thinking that we use in this course take the form of computer programs.  The behavioral consequences of the theories are found by running the programs in appropriate task environments.  We have provided access to a number of these theories via Macintosh computer programs.  For details of how to access these programs, read this document (also available in doc or rtf).

    Software for the homework assignments may be downloaded by clicking on the following links.  However, please note that these programs require the Macintosh platform to run.

    Click on the appropriate assignment (e.g. Homework #1).  Assuming you are doing this from an appropriately configured Mac, this should automatically download the software required for the weekâs homework assignments and create a folder "HWn.hqx.folder" on your desktop.  Or, you might be prompted to select a location to create this folder.

    If you are running the program from a Mac in a CMU cluster, you should create this folder in the "User Files" folder.  If the folder was automatically created on your desktop, drag this folder into the folder ãUser Filesä (this is the only folder in which you have full read, write and execute privileges).  You can now run programs from within this folder by double-clicking on the appropriate file.


    Project Resources


    Other Links

    Tue, Feb 12, 2002,19:25:00 GMT

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