Carnegie Mellon University
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Theory Acquisition and the Language of Thought

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journal contribution
posted on 2008-07-01, 00:00 authored by Charles KempCharles Kemp, Noah D. Goodman, Joshua B. Tenenbaum

Everyday knowledge about living things, physical objects and the beliefs and desires of other people appears to be organized into sophisticated systems that are often called intuitive theories. Two long term goals for psychological research are to understand how these theories are mentally represented and how they are acquired. We argue that the language of thought hypothesis can help to address both questions. First, compositional languages can capture the content of intuitive theories. Second, any compositional language will generate an account of theory learning which predicts that theories with short descriptions tend to be preferred. We describe a computational framework that captures both ideas, and compare its predictions to behavioral data from a simple theory learning task.


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