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Type: Journal article
Title: How do connectionist networks compute?
Author: O'Brien, G.
Opie, J.
Citation: Cognitive Processing, 2006; 7(1):30-41
Publisher: Springer-Verlag
Issue Date: 2006
ISSN: 1612-4782
Statement of
Gerard O’Brien and Jon Opie
Abstract: Although connectionism is advocated by its proponents as an alternative to the classical computational theory of mind, doubts persist about its computational credentials. Our aim is to dispel these doubts by explaining how connectionist networks compute. We first develop a generic account of computation—no easy task, because computation, like almost every other foundational concept in cognitive science, has resisted canonical definition. We opt for a characterisation that does justice to the explanatory role of computation in cognitive science. Next we examine what might be regarded as the “conventional” account of connectionist computation. We show why this account is inadequate and hence fosters the suspicion that connectionist networks are not genuinely computational. Lastly, we turn to the principal task of the paper: the development of a more robust portrait of connectionist computation. The basis of this portrait is an explanation of the representational capacities of connection weights, supported by an analysis of the weight configurations of a series of simulated neural networks.
Keywords: Computation; Connectionism; Representation; Resemblance
RMID: 0020052274
DOI: 10.1007/s10339-005-0017-7
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Appears in Collections:Philosophy publications

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