What the Neocortex Does

Harry Erwin herwin at gmu.edu
Thu Aug 3 07:47:50 EST 2000

Kevin K. <KK at _._> wrote:

> Harry Erwin wrote:
> > Consider a wind-tunnel model.  Where are the symbols?
> They are the elements of the model which are meant to represent the
> larger situation being modeled. For example, a model of an aircraft is a
> symbol for the real aircraft.
> The point is this: There is a continuum in the relationship between
> symbols and what they represent. Symbols for (say) an aircraft can be
> ranked according to their fidelity to the object being referenced. A set
> of blueprints for an F-15 has greater fidelity as a symbol than a set of
> sketches or photographs of an F-15. Likewise, the photos have greater
> fidelity than the word "F-15", which is completely arbitrary and has no
> fidelity at all.
> The distinction between symbolic and non-symbolic cannot be made in a
> principled way. The two are entangled. For instance, there are Chinese
> characters (crude pictures adapted to more properly symbolic purposes)
> or sentences like "The man chased the woman" which inadvertently mimic
> the actual situation in their syntactic structure.
> Kevin K.

You're missing my point. Symbols are signs. They belong to a countable
set. Wind-tunnel models can vary continuously (or discontinuously). That
matters--there are some applications (for example in hydraulic analysis)
where symbolic modeling encounters an intractable problem, but analog
modeling works fine. Why do I care? Disambiguating an acoustic scene
based on multisensor data is very difficult because of all the ghosts
that have to be eliminated _sequentially_. Bats do it in real time. How?

Harry Erwin, PhD, <mailto:herwin at gmu.edu>,Computational Neuroscientist 
(modeling bat behavior), Senior SW Analyst and Security Engineer, and 
Adjunct Professor of Computer Science, GMU. Looking--CV available at: 

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