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A Change for the Better? Assessing the Computational Cost of Re-representation



The ability to re-represent information—i.e., to see things in new ways—is essential for human reasoning, creativity, and learning. It forms the foundation of insight problem solving and scientific explanation, and is hypothesized to play a pivotal role in concept development in children. Re-representation is useful because it allows a cognizer to make sense of things in ways that were previously impossible. Yet, invoking this operation can quickly become computationally intractable in light of the combinatorial explosion of re-representation op-tions to consider. Although this intractability may explain why discovering useful ways of re-representing information can be cognitively challenging at times (as in insight puz-zles and creativity), it seems difficult to reconcile with au-tomatic and apparently effortless forms of re-representation (as in everyday analogizing and children's development of concepts). To get more insight into the conditions that can make re-representation tractable, we performed computational complexity analyses of a formal model of re-representation as invoked in analogy derivation. We will discuss how our complexity results can help explain when and why re-representation can be invoked effectively and efficiently.
A Change for the Better? Assessing the Computational Cost of Re-representation
Todd Wareham ( and Robert Robere (
Department of Computer Science, Memorial University of Newfoundland
St. John’s, NL Canada A1B 3X5
Iris van Rooij (
Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour
Radboud University Nijmegen, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
The ability to re-represent information—i.e., to see things in
new ways—is essential for human reasoning, creativity, and
learning. It forms the foundation of insight problem solving
and scientific explanation, and is hypothesized to play a pivotal
role in concept development in children. Re-representation is
useful because it allows a cognizer to make sense of things
in ways that were previously impossible. Yet, invoking this
operation can quickly become computationally intractable in
light of the combinatorial explosion of re-representation op-
tions to consider. Although this intractability may explain
why discovering useful ways of re-representing information
can be cognitively challenging at times (as in insight puz-
zles and creativity), it seems difficult to reconcile with au-
tomatic and apparently effortless forms of re-representation
(as in everyday analogizing and children’s development of
concepts). To get more insight into the conditions that can
make re-representation tractable, we performed computational
complexity analyses of a formal model of re-representation
as invoked in analogy derivation. We will discuss how
our complexity results can help explain when and why re-
representation can be invoked effectively and efficiently.
Keywords: Re-representation; Analogy; Structure Mapping;
Computational Complexity; Fixed-Parameter Tractability
Many theories of cognitive abilities operate on mental repre-
sentations of information, each of which assumes a particular
encoding of relevant situations and concepts. As there are
typically many possible encodings, one’s initial representa-
tion may in fact be inappropriate for the task at hand, slowing
down or even stopping the ability from functioning. In such
cases, it is hypothesized that humans change encodings and
re-represent stored information.
Re-representation has been invoked in many cognitive the-
ories. It allows natural analogies that rely on semantic rather
than syntactic matching (e.g., “Bob running into the cave”
is like “Alice walking into a room” “Bob moves into the
cave” is like “Alice moves into the room” (Gentner & Kurtz,
2006)). The powerful abstractions generated by such re-
representation in turn have been hypothesized to underlie cer-
tain types of concept development in children (e.g., the emer-
gence of abstract relations and attributes: “X is hotter than Y”
“temperature(X) is greater than temperature(Y)” (Gentner,
Rattermann, Markman, & Kotovosky, 1995)). More radi-
cal types of re-representation can in turn lead to totally new
ways of envisioning particular situations and concepts, and
thus have been invoked in theories of insight problem solving
(Ohlsson, 1992), scientific discovery (Gentner et al., 1997),
and creativity (Welling, 2007).
Investigating re-representation experimentally is difficult,
but there is increasing evidence for its psychological reality
(Gentner & Kurtz, 2006; Kurtz, 2006). This has motivated the
development of computational theories of re-representation
(e.g., Ohlsson (1992); Yan, Forbus, and Gentner (2003);
Krumnack, Gust, K¨
uhnberger, and Schwering (2008)), which
has raised the following conundrum: The combinatorial ex-
plosion of re-representation options that must be considered
in such theories seems to be computational intractable. This
intractability may explain why certain cognitive activities in-
voking re-representation like insight problem solving and cre-
ativity are challenging, but is at odds with how other forms of
re-representation invoked in everyday reasoning or cognitive
development seem so effortless and automatic.
In this paper, we assess the computational difficulty of a ba-
sic type of re-representation, namely individual predicate re-
representation within Gentner’s Structure Mapping Theory of
analogy derivation (SMT) (Gentner, 1983; Yan et al., 2003).
We give the first proof that such re-representation is compu-
tationally intractable, even when invoked in the context of
incremental rather than general analogy derivation. This find-
ing indicates that constraints on both the re-representation
process and its inputs must be exploited to yield tractability.
In the second part of this paper we illustrate a methodology
suitable for identifying such constraints. We also discuss how
our results can help explain when and why re-representation
can be invoked effectively and efficiently.
Computational-level Models
Analogies are defined over concepts, which are repre-
sented in SMT by predicate-structures composed of enti-
ties (e.g.,SUN ,PL AN ET) and predicates relating those en-
tities (as well as other predicates) (e.g., ATT RACT S(SU N,
PL AN ET)). Predicate-structures are naturally represented as
vertex-labelled directed acyclic graphs in which entities are
leaves, predicates are internal vertices, and predicates are
linked to their arguments by arcs (see part (a) of Figure 1).
An analogy Tis (like) a B”, where Band Tare predicate-
structures, is a mapping from a portion of Bto a portion of T
that satisfies the following three conditions:
1. The mapping is structurally consistent,i.e., match-
ing relations must have matching arguments and any
element in one predicate-structure matches at most
one element in the other.
Attracts Revolve
Greater Attracts Revolve
nucleus electron
Greater Attracts Revolve
Mass Mass
sun planet
Opposite−Sign Greater Attracts RevolveGravity
nucleus electron
Figure 1: Analogy Derivation in Structure-Mapping Theory.
(a) Two graph representations of predicate structures encod-
ing descriptions of the solar system (left) and the Rutherford
model of the atom (right). (b) An optimal analogy between
the structures in (a), where dotted arrows indicate the map-
pings between corresponding pairs of predicates and objects.
2. Relational focus: The mapping must involve com-
mon predicates but need not involve common objects,
i.e., matched predicates must have the same type, ar-
gument, number and order but matched objects need
not have the same name.
3. Systematicity: The mapping tends to match inter-
connected, deeply-nested predicate-substructures.
Let val(A)be the systematicity of an analogy A. The most
systematic analogy between a pair of predicate-structures is
an optimal analogy (see part (b) of Figure 1).
Under SMT, re-representation of predicates is only invoked
to better the analogical match between two given predicate-
structures. As such, it relaxes identical-only predicate-type
matches (e.g., ATTRACTS ATTRACTS) to allow selected
non-identical matches (e.g., WAL K MOVE). There are two
classes of mechanisms for performing re-representations:
1. Rule-guided (part (a) of Figure 2): A predicate of type
xcan be re-represented as a predicate of type yif there
is a rule xy. Collections of rules can be encoded
as predicate-type similarity tables (represented explicitly
(Holyoak & Thagard, 1989) or generated implicitly by
predicate decomposition (Gentner et al., 1995)) or gen-
eralization lattices (in which the most specific predicate-
types are at the bottom of the lattice and the most abstract
predicate-types are at the top) (Winston, 1980).
2. Context-guided (part (b) of Figure 2): A predicate pof
type xcan be re-represented as a predicate of type yif p
appears in a structural context immediately “outside” an
Figure 2: Re-Representation Mechanisms in Structure-
Mapping Theory. (a) Rule-guided. (b) Context-guided.
Analogically-matched regions are enclosed by dashed boxes.
existing analogy between two predicate-structures which,
if p’s type is changed, will allow an incremental addition
to that analogy which increases its systematicity. The most
basic type of context is a “hole”, in which a pair of pred-
icates in Band Thave different types but both their argu-
ments and parents have the same types and can be matched.
Analogy derivation alternates with such re-representation un-
til a satisfactory analogy is reached. In any one round of re-
representations, it is assumed that each predicate in the given
predicate-structures can change at most once. Though we
focus here on single-predicate re-representation, more com-
plex re-representations involving larger changes in structure
are also possible (Yan et al., 2003).
Acting on all available re-representation opportunities can
both be computationally expensive and potentially result in
analogies that are meaningless or misleading, e.g., “ana-
logical hallucinations” (Gentner & Kurtz, 2006, Page 616).
There are many possible strategies for selecting which re-
representations to perform. Two general principles underlie
all such strategies (Yan et al., 2003, Page 1269):
1. Systematicity: All else being equal, re-representation
suggestions that lead to increases in the systematicity
of the derived analogy will be preferred.
2. High Selectivity: The selection process should be
tightly controlled, so that very few of the possible op-
portunities are selected for consideration.
The above considerations yield the following
computational-level models of representation under SMT.
All three models assume that re-representation is done to
improve on a given optimal analogy. The first of these
models is general, in that it does not require that the created
analogy be an extension of the given analogy.
Input: Predicate-structures Band T, an optimal analogy
A(B,T), a rule-set R, and integers kand c.
Output: Predicate-structures B0and T0and an analogy
,T0)such that (i) B0and T0are derivable from B
and Tby at most kapplications of rules from Rand (ii)
The second and third models are restrictions of the first, as
they are required to extend the given analogy.
Input: Predicate-structures Band T, an optimal analogy
A(B,T), a rule-set R, and integers kand c.
Output: Predicate-structures B0and T0and an analogy
,T0)such that (i) AA0, (ii) B0and T0are derivable
from Band Tby at most kapplications of rules from R,
and (iii) val(A0)val(A)c.
Input: Predicate-structures Band T, an optimal analogy
A(B,T), and integers kand c.
Output: Predicate-structures B0and T0and an anal-
ogy A0(B0
,T0)such that (i) AA0, (ii) B0and T0are
derivable from Band Tby at most kcontext-guided re-
representations, and (iii) val(A0)val(A)c.
For simplicity, we will assume that all context-guided re-
representations in the third model are of the basic “hole” type
shown in part (b) of Figure 2.
It is possible that the act of analogy derivation rather than
re-representation may artificially boost the difficulty of the
models described above. To this end, we will also ana-
lyze a fourth model of re-representation, whose goal is to
re-represent a given predicate-structure in order to satisfy a
polynomial-time computable function Prop that returns ei-
ther True or False,e.g., does the re-represented Tcontain a
particular type of easily-recognizable structure?
Input: Predicate-structure Tsuch that Pro p(T) =
False, rule-set R, and integer k.
Output: Predicate-structure T0such that (i) T0deriv-
able by at most kapplications of rules from Rand (ii)
Prop(T0) = T rue.
The four models above are those that will be considered
below. However, as will be explained later in the paper, re-
sults derived relative to these models have implications for a
broad range of cognitive theories invoking re-representation.
Re-representation is Intractable
To investigate the computational (in)tractability of the mod-
els of re-representation given in the previous section, we have
adopted standard complexity-theoretic proof techniques from
Computer Science (Garey & Johnson, 1979). Using these
techniques, we have proven the following (see the supple-
mentary materials for proofs1):
Result 1 ADR, AIR[R], AIR[C], and GDR are NP-hard.
These results imply that there do not exist any algorithms for
performing basic re-representation in the sense of the models
considered here in polynomial time for all inputs (i.e., time
upper-bounded by some function ncwhere nis a measure of
input size and cis some constant).2In other words, all algo-
rithms for these models will run in exponential time or worse
(i.e., time upper-bounded at best by some function cnfor c
and nas above). As exponential-time algorithms have unre-
alistically long runtimes for all but very small inputs, they
are generally considered to be computationally intractable
(Garey & Johnson, 1979).
Given that it is NP-hard to derive analogies of a specified
systematicity (van Rooij, Evans, M¨
uller, Gedge, & Wareham,
2008; Veale & Keane, 1997), the NP-hardness of ADR is
not unexpected. The N P-hardness of AIR[R] and AIR[C] is
surprising, as deriving analogies that must be built on and in-
clude given analogies (Forbus, Ferguson, & Gentner, 1994)
was not previously thought to be intractable. This suggests
that the act of re-representation all by itself is intractable,
which is confirmed by the NP-hardness of GDR. That all
of these results hold in the most basic case as well – that
is, re-representation of individual predicates — has addi-
tional power, as this means that these results may actually
under-estimate the complexity of more complex types of re-
representation invoking larger scale structural changes such
as those proposed in Yan et al. (2003).
All this being said, the above does not say that re-
representation is impossible – rather, it suggests that re-
representation in practice may require one or more additional
constraints on the inputs and/or the re-representation process
2This assumes that the conjecture P6=NP is true, which is widely
believed within the Computer Science community on both theoreti-
cal and empirical grounds (Fortnow, 2009).
not considered so far in order to be computationally practical.
In the next section, we describe a methodology that can be
used to both model such specific constraints and investigate
their computational effects.
A Method for Identifying
Tractability Conditions
A computational problem that is intractable for unrestricted
inputs may yet be tractable for non-trivial restrictions on the
input. This insight is based on the observation that some
NP-hard problems can be solved by algorithms whose run-
ning time is polynomial in the overall input size and non-
polynomial only in some aspects of the input called parame-
ters. In other words, the main part of the input contributes to
the overall complexity in a “good” way, whereas only the pa-
rameters contribute to the overall complexity in a “bad” way.
In such cases, the problem Πis said to be fixed-parameter
tractable (Downey & Fellows, 1999) for that set of parame-
ters. The following definition states this idea more formally.
Definition 1 Let Πbe a problem with parameters k1,k2,
. . .. Then Πis said to be fixed-parameter (fp-) tractable
for parameter-set K ={k1,k2,...,kc}if there exists at least
one algorithm that solves Πfor any input of size n in time
f(k1,k2,...,kc)nc, where f (·)is an arbitrary function and c
is a constant. If no such algorithm exists then Πis said to be
fixed-parameter (fp-) intractable for parameter-set K.
In other words, a problem Πis fp-tractable for a parameter-set
Kif all superpolynomial-time complexity in solving Πcan be
confined to the parameters in K. In this sense the unbounded
nature of the parameters in Kcan be seen as a reason for
the intractability of the unconstrained version of Π. For any
given fixed-parameter (in)tractability result, other results may
be implied courtesy of the following lemmas:
Lemma 1 If Πis fp-tractable for K then Πis fp-tractable
for any K0such that K K0.
Lemma 2 If Πis fp-intractable for K then Πis fp-
intractable for any K0such that K0K.
It follows from the definition of fp-tractability that if an in-
tractable problem Πis fp-tractable for parameter-set K, then
Πcan be efficiently solved even for large inputs, provided
only that all the parameters in Kare relatively small. In the
next section we report on our investigation of whether or not
parameters may be used in this way to render the models
ADR, AIR[R], AIR[C], and GDR tractable.
What Does (and Doesn’t)
Make Re-representation Tractable?
Table 1 lists the parameters that we will consider in our fixed-
parameter analyses of re-representation. Each of these pa-
rameters is of interest for different reasons. Parameters oand
pare already known to individually render analogy deriva-
tion fp-tractable (van Rooij et al., 2008; Wareham, Evans,
Table 1: Overview of Parameters Considered.
Name Description
oMaximum number of objects over Band T
pMaximum number of predicates over Band T
kAmount of allowed re-representation
|R|Rule-set size
aTotal number of re-representation
opportunities in Band T
& van Rooij, 2011) and may in turn make analogy deriva-
tion with re-representation fp-tractable. Parameters kand |R|
explicitly and implicitly, respectively, encode the High Se-
lectivity principle for re-representation selection strategies,
and should thus be small in practice. Finally, in addition
to considering parameters that separately characterize the in-
puts (o,p) and the re-representation process (k,|R|), we will
investigate parameter a, which in a sense encodes the de-
gree of interaction between the given predicate-structures and
the re-representation mechanisms (either rules in Ror hole-
contexts) in terms of the number of opportunities that these
inputs provide for the application of these mechanisms.
The results of our analyses relative to these parameters are
given below (see the supplementary materials for proofs). As
we are still in the early stages of our investigation, these re-
sults in tandem with Lemmas 1 and 2 do not yet fully charac-
terize the parameterized complexity of our models relative to
all possible combinations of the considered parameters. How-
ever, even at this initial stage, we can still draw some inter-
esting conclusions and conjectures.
Let us start with the fp-intractability results:
Result 2 ADR and GDR are fp-intractable for parameter-
sets {o,k,a}and {k,|R|}.
Result 3 AIR[R] is fp-intractable for parameter-set {o,k,a}.
Result 4 AIR[C] is fp-intractable for parameter-set {o,k}.
Though there are still some open questions (in particular, the
parameterized status of AIR[R] relative to {|R|}, AIR[C] rel-
ative to {a}, and GDR relative to {p}), these results in tan-
dem with Lemma 1 establish that almost none of the param-
eters considered here can, if individually restricted to small
values, render any of our models computationally feasible.
The same also holds for any combinations of the parameters
within the parameter-sets mentioned in these results. Of par-
ticular note is the fact that neither of the four models consid-
ered here can be made feasible by restricting kalone. This
suggests that other principles in addition to High Selectiv-
ity must underlie re-representation selection strategies if re-
representation is to be made feasible. These principles may
have to be model-specific; for example, the current scarcity
of fp-intractability results for AIR[R] and AIR[C] suggests
that requiring derived analogies to build on given analogies
may provide model-specific opportunities for restrictions that
yield fp-tractability.
Consider now the fp-tractability results:
Result 5 ADR, AIR[R], and AIR[C] are fp-tractable for
parameter-set {p}.
Result 6 GDR is fp-tractable for parameter-set {p,|R|}.
Result 7 ADR and AIR[R] are fp-tractable for parameter-set
Result 8 AIR[C] is fp-tractable for parameter-set {o,a}.
Result 9 GDR is fp-tractable for parameter-set {|R|,a}.
Each of these results implies that if all parameters in that re-
sult’s parameter-set have small value, then the model men-
tioned in that result can be computationally feasible on in-
puts of arbitrary size. For example, Result 8 says that if o
and aare simultaneously of small value, then AIR[C] may be
computationally feasible. Results 7, 8, and 9 are of partic-
ular interest. The constraint on predicate-structure size im-
posed by ois not overly onerous, as many kinds of predicate-
structures are based on a relatively small number of objects
(Schlimm, 2008); moreover, it seems reasonable to conjec-
ture that for certain applications (e.g., those involving large-
scale re-representation rules), aand |R|may be suitably small.
Generality of Results
All of the intractability results reported in this paper, though
defined relative to a specific theory of analogy derivation,
have broad applicability. This is because the models exam-
ined here are restricted versions of models for other cognitive
theories that invoke re-representation, e.g.,
The re-representation modes encoded in our models are
used in many cognitive theories (e.g., GDR’s single-
structure re-representation parallels re-representation in
insight problem solving (Ohlsson, 1992)).
The predicate-structures on which our models are based are
a powerful but basic form of representation, and it seems
reasonable to conjecture that these other theories can be
phrased in terms of predicate-structures.
The basic single-predicate-change rules and hole-contexts
used in our models are special cases of the more complex
re-representation invoked in these other theories.
Results for models of other theories that satisfy the above then
follow from the well-known observation that intractability re-
sults for a problem Πalso hold for any problem Π0that has
Πas a special case and can hence solve Π(suppose Πis in-
tractable; if Π0is tractable, then it can be used to solve Π
efficiently, which contradicts the intractability of Π– hence,
Π0must also be intractable).
Our fp-tractability results are more fragile, as innocuous
changes in the form of the inputs or the re-representation rules
and contexts may in fact violate assumptions critical to the
operation of the algorithms underlying these results. For now,
we can say that as the parameters mentioned in Results 7, 8,
and 9 encode only the combinatorics of re-representation pos-
sibilities (via |R|and/or a) and require only that the structures
generated by each such possible set of re-representations can
be evaluated to determine if they comprise a viable solution in
a reasonable amount of time, these results apply to all models
whose input-types and re-representation mechanisms satisfy
these conditions.
Our research was motivated by the question of how the com-
putational difficulty of re-representation in general can be
reconciled with the ease of many instances of everyday re-
representation. To address this question, we first set out
to assess using formal methods whether re-representation as
proposed in one such instance, namely analogy derivation,
was computationally tractable. We found that this is not the
case. In contrast, even these models of analogy derivation
that only allow the simplest forms of re-representation can
be proven NP-hard (Result 1). This means that no practi-
cal (read: polynomial time) algorithm can exist that perform
such re-representation for all representations. To our knowl-
edge, this is the first formal proof of the intractability of re-
representation in the context of analogy derivation.
As this left the questions of how and under what condi-
tions re-representation can become tractable, we performed
complexity analyses to identify parameters that when re-
stricted to small values render re-representation tractable (see
Table 1 and its associated section for results). We believe that
the following two of our findings are of particular interest:
1. Limiting the amount of re-representation (i.e., small k)
does not by itself (nor when combined with many other pa-
rameters) make re-representation tractable (Results 2–4).
2. What does make re-representation tractable in the case of
analogy (and, as noted above, many other more complex
models) is when all of the parameters in the sets {p}(Re-
sult 5) or {o,|R|,a}(Results 7 and 8) are simultaneously
restricted to take small values.
The latter set in (2) may be applicable to re-representation
in everyday analogy derivation (especially those cases apply-
ing large-scale re-representations) and the former set may be
reasonable for re-representation in concept development, as
it is strongly hypothesized that children’s representations are
object- and attribute-rich and relationally poor (i.e., small p)
(Gentner et al., 1995). The question now is whether these
properties actually hold in these and other observedly fast
forms of re-representation. If empirical evidence of these
properties can be found, then our tractability results provide a
psychologically plausible explanation of how the modelled
forms of re-representation can be tractable despite the in-
tractability of re-representation in general.
To summarize, in this paper we have given the first for-
mal proofs not only that re-representation is computation-
ally difficult even by itself, but that there are restrictions that
may allow it to operate quickly in practice. Promising direc-
tions for future work include extending parameterized anal-
yses of the models defined here to other parameters (in par-
ticular, parameters like athat describe interactions between
the given input and the re-representation process), developing
good fixed-parameter algorithms for re-representation within
analogy derivation for implementation in large-scale AI sys-
tems like the Companions architecture (Forbus & Hinrichs,
2006), and investigating in detail the extent to which results
and conclusions presented here apply to other models of re-
representation-assisted analogy such as AMBR (Kokinov &
Petrov, 2000) and HDTP (Krumnack et al., 2008) as well as
models of insight problem solving and creativity.
The authors would like to thank three anonymous reviewers
for comments that improved the presentation of this paper.
TW was supported by NSERC Discovery Grant 228104.
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examine the historical case of one of the world's great analogical thinkers, Johannes Kepler / the authors relate his activities to the principles underlying a precise characterization of the analogical reasoning process, namely, the structure mapping engine / consider in depth the processes of highlighting, projection, re-representation, and restructuring as processes of conceptual change / show how anecdotal accounts and precise theorizing about the exact nature of cognitive processes can complement one another / characterize the mechanisms by which analogies let to creative change in knowledge Kepler's celestial physics / the sun as prime mover: the light/anima motrix analogy / the vis motrix analogy and the process of conceptual change / completing the causal account: the ferryman and magnetism analogies / additional aspects of creative analogy (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Analogical reasoning plays an important role for cognitively demanding tasks. A major challenge in computing analogies concerns the problem of adapting the representation of the domains in a way that the analogous structures become obvious, i.e. finding and, in certain circumstances, generating appropriate representations that allow for computing an analogical relation. We propose to resolve this re-representation problem of analogy making in a logical framework based on the anti-unification of logical theories. The approach is exemplified using examples from qualitative reasoning (naive physics) and mathematics.
This comprehensive and self-contained textbook presents an accessible overview of the state of the art of multivariate algorithmics and complexity. Increasingly, multivariate algorithmics is having significant practical impact in many application domains, with even more developments on the horizon. The text describes how the multivariate framework allows an extended dialog with a problem, enabling the reader who masters the complexity issues under discussion to use the positive and negative toolkits in their own research. Features: describes many of the standard algorithmic techniques available for establishing parametric tractability; reviews the classical hardness classes; explores the various limitations and relaxations of the methods; showcases the powerful new lower bound techniques; examines various different algorithmic solutions to the same problems, highlighting the insights to be gained from each approach; demonstrates how complexity methods and ideas have evolved over the past 25 years.
The structure-mapping theory has become the de facto standard account of analogies in cognitive science and philosophy of science. In this paper I propose a distinction between two kinds of domains and I show how the account of analogies based on structure-preserving mappings fails in certain (object-rich) domains, which are very common in mathematics, and how the axiomatic approach to analogies, which is based on a common linguistic description of the analogs in terms of laws or axioms, can be used successfully to explicate analogies of this kind. Thus, the two accounts of analogies should be regarded as complementary, since each of them is adequate for explicating analogies that are drawn between different kinds of domains. In addition, I illustrate how the account of analogies based on axioms has also considerable practical advantages, for example, for the discovery of new analogies. Copyright 2008 by the Philosophy of Science Association. All rights reserved.
Psychologically, rerepresentation appears to be an important technique for achieving flexibility in analogical matching. This paper presents a concise theory of rerepresentation in analogical matching. It divides the problem into detecting opportunities for rerepresentation, generating rerepresentation suggestions based on libraries of general methods, and strategies for controlling the rerepresentation process. We show that the kinds of opportunities can be exhaustively derived from the principles of structure mapping, and the methods for detecting them derived from consideration of how the SME algorithm works. Four families of rerepresentation methods are proposed, as well as task-independent and task-dependent constraints on strategies. Implemented simulation examples are used for illustration.
In reviewing existing theories of creativity, 4 mental operations seem to account for creative cognition: application, analogy, combination, and abstraction. The defining characteristics and the resulting products of these 4 operations are discussed and broad implications for understanding cultural movements, such as surrealism and renaissance, and scientific revolutions, such relativity theory, are explored. These operations form an ordinal scale of innovation, but are not predictive of the impact or success of the creative product. The abstraction operation is stressed, having been relatively neglected in the literature on creative cognition. Careful distinction between these 4 operations may shed new light on the sudden-gradual and special-ordinary controversies that exist in the field. Further, the often-used insight problem methodology is insufficient for studying the full range of creative operations. Examples of a more adequate methodology are provided.
A theory of analogical mapping between source and target analogs based upon interacting structural, semantic, and pragmatic constraints is proposed here. The structural constraint of isomorphism encourages mappings that maximize the consistency of relational corresondences between the elements of the two analogs. The constraint of semantic similarity supports mapping hypotheses to the degree that mapped predicates have similar meanings. The constraint of pragmatic centrality favors mappings involving elements the analogist believes to be important in order to achieve the purpose for which the analogy is being used. The theory is implemented in a computer program called ACME (Analogical Constraint Mapping Engine), which represents constraints by means of a network of supporting and competing hypotheses regarding what elements to map. A cooperative algorithm for parallel constraint satisfaction identities mapping hypotheses that collectively represent the overall mapping that best fits the interacting constraints. ACME has been applied to a wide range of examples that include problem analogies, analogical arguments, explanatory analogies, story analogies, formal analogies, and metaphors. ACME is sensitive to semantic and pragmatic information if it is available, and yet able to compute mappings between formally isomorphic analogs without any similar or identical elements. The theory is able to account for empirical findings regarding the impact of consistency and similarity on human processing of analogies.
A theory of analogy must describe how the meaning of an analogy is derived from the meanings of its parts. In the structure-mapping theory, the interpretation rules are characterized as implicit rules for mapping knowledge about a base domain into a target domain. Two important features of the theory are (a) the rules depend only on syntactic properties of the knowledge representation, and not on the specific content of the domains; and (b) the theoretical framework allows analogies to be distinguished cleanly from literal similarity statements, applications of abstractions, and other kinds of comparisons. Two mapping principles are described: (a) Relations between objects, rather than attributes of objects, are mapped from base to target; and (b) The particular relations mapped are determined by systematicity, as defined by the existence of higher-order relations.