Donnerstag, 21. Juni 2018

Basic functional trade-offs in cognition: An integrative framework

Basic functional trade-offs in cognition: An integrative framework
Marco Del Giudice, Bernard J. Crespi, 2018 


Trade-offs between advantageous but conflicting properties (e.g., speed vs. accuracy) are ubiquitous in cognition, but the relevant literature is conceptually fragmented, scattered across disciplines, and has not been organized in a coherent framework. This paper takes an initial step toward a general theory of cognitive trade-offs by examining four key properties of goal-directed systems: performance, efficiency, robustness, and flexibility. These properties define a number of basic functional trade-offs that can be used to map the abstract “design space” of natural and artificial cognitive systems. Basic functional trade-offs provide a shared vocabulary to describe a variety of specific trade-offs including speed vs. accuracy, generalist vs. specialist, exploration vs. exploitation, and many others. By linking specific features of cognitive functioning to general properties such as robustness and efficiency, it becomes possible to harness some powerful insights from systems engineering and systems biology to suggest useful generalizations, point to under-explored but potentially important trade-offs, and prompt novel hypotheses and connections between disparate areas of research.

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