Physical Correlate Theory


PHYSICAL SYMBOL SYSTEM HYPOTHESIS. This hypothesis, advanced by Alan Newell (1927-1992) and Herbert Alexander Simon (1916-2001), attempts to give a formulation connecting the abstract and concrete levels of human ideation, mental capacities, and brain processes. The hypothesis identifies such processes and capacities with physical symbol systems containing symbolic re-presentations that are altered by precisely de-fined symbol-manipulating operations. Thus, "mental events" may be described in a theoretical system that applies, also, to concrete, physical entities. In this way, one may construct rigorous theoretical depictions of hypothetical mental/brain processes in terms at least as real and concrete as the physical entities of molecules and atoms in physical chemistry. Newell and Simon's hypothesis presupposes that important aspects of the human mind, the brain, and the computer are separate instances of the same kind of system. The physical symbol system hypothesis -whether or not stated explicitly - is at the foundation of much of the theory and research in the area of psychological information-processing. At its base, the hypothesis attempts to identify and define the presence of "intelligence" in a system and may explain how an "intelligent system," whether artificial or real/human, can "learn" and create new knowledge. See also INFORMATION/INFORMATION-PROCESSING THEORY; NEURAL NETWORK MODELS OF INFORMATION PROCESSING. REFERENCES

(1958). Elements on a theory of human problem solving. Psychological Review, 65, 151-166. Newell, A., & Simon, H. A. (1961). Computer simulation of human thinking. Science, 134, 2011-2017. Simon, H. A. (1979). Models of thought. New

Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Newell, A. (1980). Physical symbol system. Cognitive Science, 4, 135-183.

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