Saturday, September 5, 2009

Symbolic versus Connectionist Simulation

While happily trying to learn Soar due to my quest for my own simulated student, I came across Allen Newell's statement that:

"The final risk [to unified theories of cognition] is the rising tide of connectionism, which is showing signs of sweeping over all cognitive science of the moment. The excitement is palpable--we are all hot on the trail of whether neuroscience and th cognitive world can finally be brought together. That is indeed an exciting prospect. But my message relates to symbolic architectures and all the other good things that connectionism sees as the conceptual frame to overthrow. So the final risk is that my timing is terrible. John Anderson had it right when he wrote his book on the architecture of human cognition for publication in 1983. It is too late now. (1994)"

My heart sank when I realized I wasn't paying attention to the issue of symbolic cognitive science and connectionist cognitive science. The fact is that connectivism appear to be siding with connectionist. And here I am fiddling with a symbolic cognitive architecture, Soar. I had to look for a connectivist i.e. neural network simulation tool, and found emergent. The question is whether emergent can be used to build a simulated student. It looks so daunting, and appears to be rooted in computational simulations.


Newell, A. (1994). Unified theories of cognition. USA: Harvard University.

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