The University of Arizona

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Cog Sci Brown Bag Seminar

DateFriday, February 19, 2010
Time12:00 pm
LocationGS 906
SpeakerRichard L. Lewis
TitleProfessor of Psychology
AffiliationDepartment of Psychology - University of Michigan

Bounded Optimality in Language, Thought, and Action: Studies of Adaptation Under Cognitive Constraint

ABSTRACT: In this presentation we explore an emerging theoretical and methodological framework that construes cognitive and linguistic processing as boundedly optimal control problems---as rational processes constrained by both the structure of the external environment and the structure and limitations of the cognitive architecture. Underlying the approach are computational methods for evaluating large spaces of possible behavioral strategies in terms of their expected utility given these constraints, rather than their fit to observed data. We demonstrate the generality of the approach through its application to several domains:
• rapid multi-tasking (where it provides novel quantitative accounts of (individually varying) dual-task performance);
• decision-making (where it provides novel derivations of optimal "fast-and-frugal" decision making strategies previously stipulated as heuristic);
• language processing (where it provides novel derivations of sentence processing strategies jointly determined by the computational architecture and statistics of the linguistic environment);
• human-computer interaction (where it provides novel derivations of the coordination of hands, eyes and cognition in service of specific tasks);
• intrinsic motivation (where it provides a novel answer to the question of where rewards come from).

We discuss how the framework departs from and complements related approaches such as rational analysis, bounded rationality, cognitive architectures, and Bayesian modeling.