McDonnell Workshop/Research Kitchen on
Problems of Variable Definition and Selection

Carnegie Mellon University
November 5 - November 6

General topic: Almost all of the "standard" models of causal learning and reasoning assume a set of variables over which probabilities can be computed, interventions can be performed, and so on. This workshop/research kitchen aims to address the general questions of what those variables are (or could be) in realistic situations, and how they are (or could be) learned by cognitive agents. Some more specific versions of these questions are:

Hotel: Holiday Inn at University Center. Please make reservations soon, as this hotel fills quickly.
If you are unable to get a reservation there, please try the Wyndham Pittsburgh - University Place. If you make a reservation at the Wyndham, please email me ( so that we can make sure to have transportation from there to CMU.

Transportation info: Taxis from the Pittsburgh airport to the hotel(s) will cost $30-$40 (without tip). If you want to use public transportation, you should take the 28X bus, which runs from the airport to Oakland (i.e., the university area) via downtown. There is a special stop for the 28X bus at the airport.
For those attending the PSA conference, we will arrange transportation from CMU to the conference hotel.

[Campus maps can be found here; Baker Hall is building #2.]
Wednesday, November 5:
10:00-10:30 am: Coffee/breakfast (Baker Hall 135 lounge)

10:30-10:45 am: Introductions/Opening conversation (Baker Hall 150)
10:45-11:15 am: Peter Spirtes (Baker Hall 150)
11:15-11:45 am: Discussion

11:45-1:00 pm: Lunch (Baker Hall 154R)

1:00-1:30 pm: Noah Goodman -- Grounded Causal Models (Baker Hall 154R)
1:30-2:00 pm: Discussion
2:00-2:30 pm: Clark Glymour -- Learning Clusters of Variables (Baker Hall 154R)
2:30-3:00 pm: Discussion
3:00-3:30 pm: Coffee break

3:30-4:00 pm: Joe Austerweil -- Learning Feature Representations (Baker Hall 154R)
4:00-4:30 pm: Discussion
4:30-5:00 pm: Liz Bonowitz -- Seeing is believing: Children track objects differently in causal and noncausal contexts (Baker Hall 154R)
5:00-6:00 pm: Discussion

7:00 pm (approx): Dinner (TBA)

Thursday, November 6:
9:30-10:00 am: Coffee/breakfast (Baker Hall 129)

10:00-10:30 am: Joe Ramsey -- Variable Definition in fMRI Data (Baker Hall 129)
10:30-11:00 am: Discussion
11:00-11:15 am: Coffee break

11:15-1:00 pm: General discussion (lunch provided)
Shuttle service will be provided from CMU to the PSA 2008 conference (which starts at 2:00 pm).