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Swiss army knife and Ockham's razor: modeling and facilitating operator's comprehension in complex dynamic tasks

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2 Author(s)
Yufik, Y.M. ; Institute of Medical Cybernetics Inc., Gaithersburg, MD, USA ; Sheridan, T.B.

This paper identifies two contending metaphors of the mind, and outlines a model of comprehension informed by the parsimony principle ("Ockham's razor"). The model, called virtual associative network (VAN), is applied to explain human performance and improve decision aiding in complex tasks involving multiple variables and rapidly changing constraints. This model is compared to a conventional modeling paradigm ("Swiss army knife") representing the mind as a "toolkit" of special purpose "instruments" (or modules). The paper has four sections. The first section introduces the VAN model focusing on its key assumptions. The second section runs computational experiments to assess the mathematical validity of these assumptions. Next, some of the model's decision aiding applications are demonstrated. The concluding section discusses agreement and the lack of such between the VAN model and other cognitive theories. Discussion centers on assessing VAN's plausibility vis-a-vis recent neuropsychological findings.

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Systems, Man and Cybernetics, Part A: Systems and Humans, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:32 ,  Issue: 2 )