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Bounding Rational Analysis: Constraints on the Approach to Optimality

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Howes, A., Lewis, R.L., Vera, A. (in press). Bounding Rational Analysis: Constraints on the Approach to Optimality. In W.D. Gray (Ed.) Integrated Models of Cognitive Systems. Oxford University Press.

Available online at: http://www.informatics.manchester.ac.uk/~ahowes/articles/Howes.2005.IMoCS.pdf

Original abstract: We critique rational analysis (Anderson, 1990) with which Anderson emphasised the need for purposive explanations of the conditions influencing the adaptation of cognition to objective and environment only. We also critique the modeling and data fitting methodology used with simulations of the human cognitive architecture. In response, we sketch the requirements for an approach to explaining behaviour that emphasises explanations in terms of the optimal behaviour given not only descriptions of the objective function and environment but also constraints on the human cognitive architecture and knowledge. A central assumption of the proposal is that a theory explains behaviour if the optimal behaviour predicted by the theory shows substantial correspondence to asymptotic human performance.

Rubric for the reading group: Everyone attending is expected to read the paper in advance. Please bring a copy with you, preferably annotated with interesting reflections. The format of discussion will be a brief invited introduction/critique by two members of the group, followed by general discussion and informal mixing.

This talk is part of the Crucible/Microsoft HCI Reading Group series.

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