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AIC Seminar Series

Probability, programs, and the mind

Noah GoodmanStanford University[Home Page]

Notice:  Hosted by Rodrigo de Salvo Braz. Slides via WebEx from 3:45pm on, sound at 1-888-355-1249, 749045.

Date:  2010-11-11 at 16:00

Location:  EJ228 (SRI E building)  (Directions)

   Abstract

Logic and probability are key themes of cognitive science that have long had an uneasy coexistence. I will describe the Probabilistic Language of Thought approach that brings them together into compositional representations with probabilistic meaning – formalized as stochastic lambda calculus. I will describe how this general framework is realized in the probabilistic programming language Church. This language provides a compact formal representation for complex generative models. I will report on some implementation techniques for approximate inference engines for Church, including basic Metropolis-Hastings, sequential Monte Carlo, and Hamiltonian Monte Carlo. I will then use Church to investigate human concept learning, beginning with simple categorization tasks and extending to acquisition of abstract concepts, and human social cognition.

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