Scott Friedman publishes journal article in Cognitive Science

Dr. Scott Friedman authored a paper in Cognitive Science with collaborators from Northwestern University:

The journal paper presents a computational model conceptual change, which is the human cognitive process of incorporating new believes in the presence of conflicting beliefs.  The paper demonstrates the AI model by simulating actual students learning and revising their beliefs in commonsense science domains.   The computational model leverages abductive reasoning and qualitative modeling, and incorporates theories from decades of research in cognitive psychology and learning science.  Abstract below:

People use commonsense science knowledge to flexibly explain, predict, and manipulate the world around them, yet we lack computational models of how this commonsense science knowledge is represented, acquired, utilized, and revised. This is an important challenge for cognitive science: Building higher order computational models in this area will help characterize one of the hallmarks of human reasoning, and it will allow us to build more robust reasoning systems. This paper presents a novel assembled coherence (AC) theory of human conceptual change, whereby people revise beliefs and mental models by constructing and evaluating explanations using fragmentary, globally inconsistent knowledge. We implement AC theory with Timber, a computational model of conceptual change that revises its beliefs and generates human‐like explanations in commonsense science. Timber represents domain knowledge using predicate calculus and qualitative model fragments, and uses an abductive model formulation algorithm to construct competing explanations for phenomena. Timber then (a) scores competing explanations with respect to previously accepted beliefs, using a cost function based on simplicity and credibility, (b) identifies a low‐cost, preferred explanation and accepts its constituent beliefs, and then (c) greedily alters previous explanation preferences to reduce global cost and thereby revise beliefs. Consistency is a soft constraint in Timber; it is biased to select explanations that share consistent beliefs, assumptions, and causal structure with its other, preferred explanations. In this paper, we use Timber to simulate the belief changes of students during clinical interviews about how the seasons change. We show that Timber produces and revises a sequence of explanations similar to those of the students, which supports the psychological plausibility of AC theory.