Analogical Learning and Case-Based Instruction

Sponsor: Theoretical Foundations for Socio-Cognitive Architectures Program, Office of Naval Research

Principal Investigators: Dedre Gentner, Kenneth D. Forbus

Project Summary: Our research program combines psychological and computational research to explore the role of analogy and similarity in learning and reasoning from examples. This issue is central to understanding how to improve education and training, in which examples are used ubiquitously but not always effectively. Our research is suggesting ways to maximize the learning potential of examples in instruction. The psychological principles we are developing should also provide guidance for creating better case-based software, which could be used to provide performance support on ships and to facilitate training and decision-making.

The role of analogy and similarity in learning and reasoning from examples is central to understanding the nature of human cognition. We believe that analogical comparison lies at the heart of cognition. We are exploring this conjecture via the Companion cognitive architecture (Forbus et al 2009) that focuses on modeling conceptual knowledge, learning, reasoning, and conceptual change. In our model, structure-mapping is integral to learning and reasoning. It underlies the formation of categories through the comparison of exemplars with one another to derive a common abstraction. It underlies categorization, since exemplars are compared with structural descriptions of the category norm and are thereby assigned to categories. It underlies inference from categories through candidate inferences drawn via comparisons of the category norm with the instance at hand. The linkages among these phenomena help constrain the architecture, which we then test and refine through a combination of psychological and computational experimentation.

Selected Publications:

  1. Sagi, E., Gentner, D. & Lovett, A. (2012). What difference reveals about similarity. Cognitive Science. DOI: 10.1111/j.1551-6709.2012.01250.x
  2. Kandaswamy, S. & Forbus, K. (2012) Modeling learning of relational abstractions via structural alignment. Proceedings of CogSci 2012.
  3. Gentner, D., Anggoro, F., & Klibanoff, R. (2011) Structure-mapping and relational language supports children's learning of relational categories. Child Development, 82(4). 1173-1188.
  4. Wolff, P., & Gentner, D. (2011). Structure-mapping in metaphor comprehension. Cognitive Science, 35, 1456-1488.
  5. Friedman, S. E. & Forbus, K. D. (2011). Repairing Incorrect Knowledge with Model Formulation and Metareasoning. Proceedings of the 22nd International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence. Barcelona, Spain.
  6. Friedman, S. E., Forbus, K. D. & Sherin, B. (2011). Constructing and revising commonsense science explanations: A metareasoning approach. Proceedings of the AAAI Fall Symposium on Advances in Cognitive Systems.
  7. Friedman, S. E., Forbus, K. D. & Sherin, B. (2011). How do the seasons change? Creating & revising explanations via model formulation & metareasoning. Proceedings of the 25th International Workshop on Qualitative Reasoning. Barcelona, Spain.
  8. Taylor, J. L. M., Friedman, S. E., Forbus, K. D., Goldwater, M. & Gentner, D. (2011). Modeling structural priming in sentence production via analogical processes. Proceedings of the 33rd Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (CogSci). Boston, MA.

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