April Fool's Sloth
For April Fool's Day, Mark
Liberman (a.k.a. Mr. LanguageLog) has
arranged for me to give a colloquium talk to his colleagues at the University
of Pennsylvania's Institute for Research
in Cognitive Science. I'll be speaking this Friday at noon.
- "Coarse-graining, symbolic dynamics and collective coordinates: How physicists deal with large, complex systems, and why cognitive scientists might care"
- Abstract: Many systems in statistical physics admit multiple
levels of description, from microscopic molecular detail up through very broad
macroscopic features. The higher-level descriptions are "coarse-grainings" of
the lower levels, and the higher-level variables are generally collective
properties of many lower-level objects. Not every coarse-graining leads to a
"good" set of macroscopic variables; those that do have certain statistical
properties. These properties, in turn, have important information-theoretic
implications, and, when the coarse-graining is discrete ("symbolic
dynamics"), the system can be modeled by stochastic automata. After
sketching these ideas, I suggest some ways they might help cognitive scientists
relate symbolic or computational descriptions to neural, dynamical ones.
This is largely based on my paper with Cris Moore on the nature of macroscopic states in
statistical mechanics, plus some irresponsible speculations about
coarse-graining neural dynamics to yield symbolic cognitive states, which
should on no account be held against him. Hopefully these speculations are
not so irresponsible that I will have to deny knowing myself, but we'll see
what people with actual knowledge of the relevant subjects think on Friday.
(I didn't post about my last three talks, but what
would this blog be without my shameless, yet ineffectual, attempts at
Minds, Brains, and Neurons
Posted at March 30, 2005 22:10 | permanent link