NotesFAQContact Us
Search Tips
Peer reviewed Peer reviewed
Direct linkDirect link
ERIC Number: EJ1180776
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2018-May
Pages: 36
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-0364-0213
Representing, Running, and Revising Mental Models: A Computational Model
Friedman, Scott; Forbus, Kenneth; Sherin, Bruce
Cognitive Science, v42 n4 p1110-1145 May 2018
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.
Wiley-Blackwell. 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148. Tel: 800-835-6770; Tel: 781-388-8598; Fax: 781-388-8232; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Office of Naval Research (ONR)
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A