John R. Anderson to Receive the David E. Rumelhart Prize for Contributions to the Formal Analysis of Human Cognition

BY Byron Spice - Tue, 2003-08-19 12:00  Printer-friendly version

The Glushko-Samuelson Foundation and the Cognitive ScienceSociety are pleased to announce that John R. Anderson has beenchosen as the fourth recipient of the $100,000 David E. RumelhartPrize, awarded annually for outstanding contributions to theformal analysis of human cognition. Anderson will receive thisprize and give the Prize Lecture at the 26th Meeting of theCognitive Science Society in Chicago, August 4-8, 2004.

The David E. Rumelhart Prize
The David E. Rumelhart Prize was created by the Glushko-SamuelsonFoundation to honor David E. Rumelhart, a Cognitive Scientist whoexploited a wide range of formal methods to address issues andtopics in Cognitive Science. Perhaps best known for hiscontributions to connectionist or neural network models,Rumelhart also exploited symbolic models of human cognition,formal linguistic methods, and the formal tools ofmathematics. Reflecting this diversity, the first three winnersof the David E. Rumelhart Prize are individuals whose work lieswithin three of these four approaches. Past recipients are Geoffrey Hinton, a connectionist modeler, Richard M. Shiffrin, amathematical psychologist, and Aravind Joshi, a formal andcomputational linguist. Anderson is the leading proponent of thesymbolic modeling framework, thereby completing coverage of thefour approaches.

Research Biography of John R. Anderson
John R. Anderson, Richard King Mellon Professor of Psychology and Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University is an exemplaryrecipient for a prize that is intended to honor "a significantcontemporary contribution to the formal analysis of humancognition". For the last three decades, Anderson has beenengaged in a vigorous research program with the goal ofdeveloping a computational theory of mind. Anderson's work isframed within the symbol processing framework and has involved anintegrated program of experimental work, mathematical analyses,computational modeling, and rigorous applications. His researchhas provided the field of cognitive psychology with comprehensiveand integrated theories. Furthermore, it has had a real impacton educational practice in the classroom and on studentachievement in learning mathematics.

Anderson's contributions have arisen across a career thatconsists of five distinct phases. Phase 1 began when he enteredgraduate school at Stanford at a time when cognitive psychologywas incorporating computational techniques from artificialintelligence. During this period and immediately after hisgraduation from Stanford, he developed a number of simulationmodels of various aspects of human cognition such as free recall[1]. His major contribution from this time was the HAM theory,which he developed with Gordon Bower. In 1973, he and Bowerpublished the book Human Associative Memory [2], whichimmediately attracted the attention of everyone then working inthe field. The book played a major role in establishingpropositional semantic networks as the basis for representationin memory and spreading activation through the links in suchnetworks as the basis for retrieval of information from memory.It also provided an initial example of a research style that hasbecome increasingly used in cognitive science: to create acomprehensive computer simulation capable of performing a rangeof cognitive tasks and to test this model with a series ofexperiments addressing the phenomena within that range.

Dissatisfied with the limited scope of his early theory, Andersonundertook the work which has been the major focus of his careerto date, the development of the ACT theory [3]. ACT extended theHAM theory by combining production systems with semantic nets andthe mechanism of spreading activation. The second phase ofAnderson's career is associated with the initial development ofACT. The theory reached a significant level of maturity with thepublication in 1983 of The Architecture of Cognition [4], whichis the most cited of his research monographs (having receivedalmost 2000 citations in the ensuing years). At the time ofpublication, The ACT* model described in this book was the mostintegrated model of cognition that had then been produced andtested. It has had a major impact on the theoretical developmentof the field and on the movement toward comprehensive and unifiedtheories, incorporating separation of procedural and declarativeknowledge and a series of mechanisms for production rule learningthat became the focus of much subsequent research on theacquisition of cognitive skills. In his own book on UnifiedTheories of Cognition, Alan Newell had this to say: "ACT*, is inmy opinion, the first unified theory of cognition. It has prideof place.... [It] provides a threshold of success which all othercandidates... must exceed".

Anderson then began a major program to test whether ACT* and itsskill acquisition mechanisms actually provided an integrated andaccurate account of learning. He started to apply the theory todevelopment of intelligent tutoring systems; this defines thethird phase of his research. This work grew from an initialemphasis on teaching the programming language LISP to a broaderfocus on high-school mathematics [5], responding to perceptionsof a national crisis in mathematics education. These systemshave been shown to enable students to reach target achievementlevels in a third of the usual time and to improve studentperformance by a letter grade in real classrooms. Andersonguided this research to the point where a full high schoolcurriculum was developed that was used in urban schools.Subsequently, a separate corporation has been created to placethe tutor in hundreds of schools, influencing tens of thousandsof students. The tutor curriculum was recently recognized by theDepartment of Education as one of five "exemplary curricula"nationwide. While Anderson does not participate in that company,he continues research developing better tools for trackingindividual student cognition, and this research continues to beinformed by the ACT theory. His tutoring systems have establishedthat it is possible to impact education with rigorous simulationof human cognition.

In the late 1980s, Anderson began work on what was to define thefourth phase of his research, which was an attempt to understandhow the basic mechanisms of a cognitive architecture were adaptedto the statistical structure of the environment. Anderson (1990)[6] called this a rational analysis of cognition and applied itto the domains of human memory, categorization, causal inference,and problem solving. He utilized Bayesian statistics to deriveoptimal solutions to the problems posed by the environment andshowed that human cognition approximated these solutions. Suchoptimization analysis and use of Bayesian techniques have becomeincreasingly prevalent in Cognitive Science.

Subsequent to the rational analysis effort, Anderson has returnedhis full attention back to the ACT theory, defining the fifth and current phase of his career. With Christian Lebiere, he hasdeveloped the ACT-R theory, which incorporates the insights fromhis work on rational analysis [7]. Reflecting the developmentsin computer technology and the techniques learned in theapplications of ACT*, the ACT-R system was made available forgeneral use. A growing and very active community of well over 100 researchers is now using it to model a wide range of issues inhuman cognition, including dualtasking, memory, language,scientific discovery, and game playing. It has becomeincreasingly used to model dynamic tasks like air-trafficcontrol, where it promises to have training implicationsequivalent to the mathematics tutors. Through the independentwork of many researchers, the field of cognitive science is nowseeing a single unified system applied to an unrivaled range oftasks. Much of Anderson's own work on the ACT-R has beeninvolved relating the theory to data from functional brainimaging [8].

In addition to his enormous volume of original work, Anderson hasfound the time to produce and revise two textbooks, one oncognitive psychology [9] and the other on learning and memory[10]. The cognitive psychology textbook, now in its fifthedition, helped define the course of study that is modernintroductory cognitive psychology. His more recent learning andmemory textbook, now in its second edition, is widely regarded asreflecting the new synthesis that is occurring in that fieldamong animal learning, cognitive psychology, and cognitiveneuroscience.

Anderson has previously served as president of the CognitiveScience Society and has received a number of awards inrecognition of his contributions. In 1978 he received theAmerican Psychological Association's Early Career Award; in 1981he was elected to membership in the Society of ExperimentalPsychologists; in 1994 he received APA's Distinguished ScientificContribution Award; and in 1999 he was elected to both theNational Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts andScience. Currently, as a member of the National Academy, he isworking towards bringing more rigorous science standards toeducational research.

1. Anderson, J. R., & Bower, G. H. (1972). Recognition andretrieval processes in free recall. Psychological Review, 79,97-123.

2. Anderson, J. R. & Bower, G. H. (1973). Human associativememory. Washington: Winston and Sons.

3. Anderson, J. R. (1976). Language, memory, and thought.Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

4. Anderson, J. R. (1983). The Architecture ofCognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

5. Anderson, J. R., Corbett, A. T., Koedinger, K., & Pelletier,R. (1995). Cognitive tutors: Lessons learned. The Journal ofLearning Sciences, 4, 167-207.

6. Anderson, J. R. (1990). The Adaptive Character ofThought. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

7. Anderson, J. R. & Lebiere, C. (1998). The atomic components ofthought. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

8. Anderson, J. R., Qin, Y., Sohn, M-H., Stenger, V. A. & Carter,C. S. (2003.) An information-processing model of the BOLDresponse in symbol manipulation tasks. Psychonomic Bulletin &Review. 10, 241-261.

9. Anderson, J. R. (2000). Cognitive Psychology and ItsImplications: Fifth Edition. New York: Worth Publishing.

10. Anderson, J. R. (2000). Learning and Memory, SecondEdition. New York: Wiley.

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Byron Spice | 412-268-9068 | bspice [atsymbol] cs ~replace-with-a-dot~ cmu ~replace-with-a-dot~ edu