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Rational Analysis as a Link between Human Memory and Information Retrieval



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Steyvers M Griffiths T L in press Rational Analysis as a Link between Human Memory and Information Retrieval In N Chater and M Oaksford Eds The Probabilistic Mind Prospects from Rational Models of Cognition Oxford University Press Rational Analysis as a Link between Human Memory and Information Retrieval Mark Steyvers1 and Thomas L Griffiths2 1 2 Department of Cognitive Sciences University of California Irvine CA 92697 USA Department of Psychology University of California Berkeley CA 94720 USA Corresponding author Steyvers M msteyver uci edu 1 Introduction Rational analysis has been successful in explaining a variety of different aspects of human cognition Anderson 1990 Chater Oaksford 1999 Marr 1982 Oaksford Chater 1998 The explanations provided by rational analysis have two properties they emphasize the connection between behavior and the structure of the environment and they focus on the abstract computational problems being solved These properties provide the opportunity to recognize connections between human cognition and other systems that solve the same computational problems with the potential both to provide new insights into human cognition and to allow us to develop better systems for solving those problems In particular we should expect to find a correspondence between human cognition and systems that are successful at solving the same computational problems in a similar environment In this chapter we argue that such a correspondence exists between human memory and internet search and show that this correspondence leads to both better models of human cognition and better methods for searching the web Anderson 1990 and Anderson and Schooler 1991 2000 have shown that many findings in the memory literature related to recognition and recall of lists of words can be understood by considering the computational problem of assessing the relevance of an item in memory to environmental cues They showed a close correspondence between memory retrieval for lists of



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