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Graduate Summer School: Probabilistic Models of Cognition: The Mathematics of Mind

July 9 - 26, 2007

GSS Group Photo

Summer School Calendar on 30boxes.com

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Schedule of Presentations

    Please note that the webcast presentations are in Real Player format, downloads are available for Linux, Mac, Unix, and Windows platforms.

Background Material

Program Poster PDF

Accommodations and Air Travel

Organizing Committee

Josh Tenenbaum (Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Brain and Cog Sc, CS, and AI)
Alan Yuille (University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Statistics)


 “Probabilistic Models of Cognition: The Mathematics of Mind” will involve leaders from Cognitive Science and experts from Computer Science, Mathematics and Statistics, who are interested in making bridges to Cognitive Science. The goal is to develop a common mathematical framework for all aspects of cognition, and review how it explains empirical phenomena in the major areas of cognitive science - including vision, memory, reasoning, learning, planning, and language. The summer school is motivated by recent advances which offer the promise of modeling human cognition mathematically. These advances have occurred largely because the mathematical and computational tools developed for designing artificial systems are beginning to make an impact on theoretical and empirical work in Cognitive Science. In turn, Cognitive Science offers an enormous range of complex problems which challenge and test these theories.

The main theoretical theme of the summer school is to model cognitive abilities as sophisticated forms of probabilistic inference. The approach is "sophisticated" in at least three respects. First, the knowledge and beliefs of cognitive agents are modeled using sophisticated probability distributions defined over structured relational systems, such as graphs and generative grammars. Second, the learning and reasoning processes of cognitive agents are modeled using advanced mathematical techniques from statistical estimation, statistical physics, and stochastic differential equations. Third, the decision making processes of agents are modeled using techniques from decision theory and game theory.  

The summer school is intended for graduate students and postdocs, as well as more senior researchers interested in focusing their efforts on these mathematical challenges and crucial applications. The program is organized as follows:

Week 1: Tutorials. Introduction to the conceptual foundations and basic mathematical and computational techniques. Topics include Bayesian probability theory, parameter estimation, graphical models (directed and undirected), inference, learning (parameters & structure), dynamical models, basic Bayesian decision theory, MCMC other unsupervised learning topics (e.g. EM, PCA/FA), model selection, and information maximization. These methods will be illustrated on simple cognitive examples. Computer software packages will be available so that students can implement these theories and apply them to model simple cognitive tasks.

Week 2: Core applications to cognitive science. This includes advanced methods such as probabilistic grammars and relational models, which have recently been successfully applied to language and vision and hierarchical reinforcement learning (which relates to how cognitive agents make decisions over time). Core applications will include how these mathematical techniques can be used to predict and explain cognitive phenomena, modeling reasoning over time, which relates to decision making experiments, and modeling information based exploration which accounts for cognitive reasoning experiments and aspects of visual search. All these core applications will emphasize themes and tools that are common to all aspects of cognitive science. 

Week 3: Advanced topics. There has recently been considerable success in developing unsupervised methods for learning probabilistic models for language and vision which has major implications for cognitive development. Talks will take place on unsupervised learning of grammars for language and vision in tandem with research on modeling learnability and cognitive development. Advanced topics will also include modeling mutilmodal sensory interactions (e.g. between vision and audition) and sensorimotor integration, neuroeconomics which studies how decisions are made in brain and how this relates to decision theory and game theory. This will be supplemented with studies of advanced decision making.


Bernard Balleine (UCLA)
Jerome Busemeyer (Indiana University)
Nick Chater (University College London)
Patricia Cheng (University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA))
Adnan Darwiche (University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA))
Nathaniel Daw (New York University)
Peter Dayan (University College London)
Craig Fox (University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA))
Stuart Geman (Brown University)
Zoubin Ghahramani (University of Cambridge)
Noah Goodman (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Alison Gopnik (University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley))
Tom Griffiths (University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley))
Keith Holyoak (University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA))
Robert Jacobs (University of Rochester)
Mark Johnson (Brown University)
Charles Kemp (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Dan Kersten (University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)
Konrad Koerding (Northwestern University Medical School)
Stanley Kok (University of Washington)
John Kruschke (Indiana University)
Roger Levy (University of California, San Diego)
Fei-Fei Li (Princeton University)
Hongjing Lu (University of Hong Kong)
Laurence Maloney (New York University)
Brian Milch (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Amy Perfors (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Stuart Russell (University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley))
Ladan Shams (UCLA)
Rich Shiffrin (Indiana University)
Mark Steyvers (University of California, Irvine (UCI))
Josh Tenenbaum (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
Ying Nian Wu (UCLA)
Angela Yu (Princeton University)
Alan Yuille (University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA))


IPAM is no longer accepting applications for this program. You may register for the program by following the link below. You can register for the entire three-week program, or just a part of it.

Registration Form

Information for housing for those who are registering on their own is available here.

Contact Us:

Institute for Pure and Applied Mathematics (IPAM)
Attn: GSS2007
460 Portola Plaza
Los Angeles CA 90095-7121
Phone: 310 825-4755
Fax: 310 825-4756
Email: ipam@ucla.edu
Website: http://www.ipam.ucla.edu/programs/gss2007/

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