Csaba Szepesvari (1996) Comparing Yardsticks for Cognition . Psycoloquy: 7(26) Optimal Cognition (4)
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Psycoloquy 7(26): Comparing Yardsticks for Cognition

Commentary on Worden on Optimal-Cognition

Csaba Szepesvari
Bolyai Institute of Mathematics
Jozsef Attila University
Szeged, 6720 Aradi vrt tere 1.
Department of Adaptive Systems,
Institute of Isotopes
Hungarian Academy of Sciences and
Jozsef Attila University
Budapest 1525, Pf. 77. HUNGARY



Worden (1996) has suggested that cognitive science could be built around a model for optimal cognition. He has also proposed an equation, called the Requirement Equation (RE), which should describe the biological requirement brains must meet. Here I analyse the limitations of his equation in detail. The analysis is based on a more general class of models, namely, models of optimal sequential decisions, of which Worden's equation is a special case. It turns out that the RE can describe optimal behaviour if there is no perceptual aliasing. If the RE is able to capture all aspects of cognition then animal cognition is probably modular and thus it is more likely to be suboptimal than optimal. I also show that -- contrary to Worden's suggestion -- the optimisation problem faced by evolution may have many local minima, depending on the genetic encoding. Nevertheless, one can show, purely on the basis of the theory of optimal sequential decisions, that brains of animals probably use internal representations and that cognition has a universal limit when one considers its biological function.


evolution of cognition, immediate rewards, internal representation, modularity of cognition, optimal sequential decisions.