When Coffee Cups Are Like Old Elephants, or Why Representation Modules Don’t Make Sense

  • Robert M. French


I argue against a widespread assumption of many current models of cognition—namely, that the process of creating representations of reality can be separated from the process of manipulating these representations. I hope to show that any attempt to isolate these two processes will inevitably lead to programs that are either basically guaranteed to succeed ahead of time due to the (usually carefully hand-crafted) representations given to the program or that that would experience combinatorial explosion if they were scaled up. I suggest that the way out of this dilemma is a process of incremental representational refinement achieved by means of a continual interaction between the representation of the situation at hand and the processing that will make use of that representation.


Solar System Credit Card Representation Module Combinatorial Explosion Banana Peel 
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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Robert M. French
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Psychology (B32)University of LiègeBelgium

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