chapter  1
10 Pages

Strategies and Cognition

The field of Cognitive Modeling can probably best be defined by the interest and disposition of the scientists who work in this area. The interest is the mind-the 3-pound universe that emerges as the full richness of human life from a tangled mess of neurons. The disposition, which separates the cognitive modeler from experimental psychologists, neuroscientists, and philosophers, is the belief that the best way to understand something is to try to build it. The goal of Cognitive Modeling is to understand the human mind to such a degree of precision that one could design a computer program that did the same thing. As a result, cognitive modelers tend to be computer scientists as well, and are generally well accepted into a larger computer science field of Artificial Intelligence, whose members share many of the same methods, if not the same values. However, if the computer had never been invented, we might imagine that the cognitive modelers of the world would continue on in some other constructive medium, perhaps designing intricate clockworks using springs and gears rather than algorithms and data structures. But as it stands, the match between Cognitive Modeling and the computer is a convenient one, where mental processes can be specified as algorithms and the knowledge upon which they operate can be encoded in data structures.