830:201:02 Principles of Cognitive Science
Prof. Michael Leyton
Required Book: “Symmetry, Causality, Mind”
Michael Leyton (MIT Press)
Exam: Only one final: The easiest arrangement possible!!
50 multiple-choice questions
Tests both the (1) lecture notes + (2) the readings from the book assigned for homework
Recommendation: Write down all the notes given in class – very valuable for review!!!
List of readings given during the semester:
Chapter 8 pages 477-566
(i.e., missing out Chapters 3,4,6,7)
I. Cognitive Science
Different divisions of psychology: social, adult dev., physiological, etc.
Cognitive: studies of our minds with respect to information
= the study of the knowledge functions of the mind
What is knowledge?
Allen Newell’s answer:
Newell’s definition of knowledge
Newell says: “If you look at a creature, and it is behaving with sufficient flexibility,
complexity, and adaptivity, then you will want to say that it possesses
So he defines knowledge in terms of what it allows creatures to do.
However: this does not actually say what knowledge is!!!
Newell’s theory does not define knowledge
Leyton gives the following direct definition of knowledge:
KNOWLEDGE IS CAUSAL EXPLANATION
(Explaining how things are caused.)
A cognitive system
, i.e. a mind
, is something that forms and manipulates
are essentially equivalent.
This class will present Leyton’s theory
, as opposed to Newell’s.
II.Introduction (p.1 of book)
How is memory related to causal explanation?
Imagine entering a New York subway station.
You see a dented garbage can.
The garbage can was dented before you arrived, e.g. weeks ago!
Yet the present shape tells you that there was an event in the past, where
something smashed into the can.
So you extracted information about the past, from the object.
= information about the past.
Therefore, since the garbage can has
information about the past
, it has