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11 October 2012

Unifying Computing and Cognition: The SP Theory and the SP Machine

Location: Meeting Room 10, 2nd Floor, JLB
Time: 12:30pm - 13:45pm
Speaker(s): Dr Gerry Wolff is Director of CognitionResearch.org

The SP theory, developed between 1987 and 2005, is a radical synthesis of ideas across computing and cognition. It is a theory of information processing in all kinds of system, both natural and artificial, a new paradigm for information processing which incorporates principles of minimum length encoding pioneered by Solomonoff, Kolmogoroff, Wallace, Rissanen, and others, but which is built from new foundations and differs at a fundamental level from any existing theory or system. The SP theory has a dual role. It is a theory of engineering, the basis for a proposed SP machine with applications in artificial intelligence and in data storage and retrieval. At the same time, it is a theory of information processing in brains and nervous systems both at an abstract level and at the more concrete level of neurons and neural processing. A central idea in the theory is the concept of "multiple alignment", derived from that concept in bioinformatics but with important differences. This talk will describe how multiple alignments may be built by the matching and unification of patterns. With examples from the SP62 computer model, it will show how a range of concepts and processes may be modelled as multiple alignments, including the analysis and production of natural language, recognition of patterns at multiple levels of abstraction, various kinds of probabilistic reasoning, planning and problem solving, and unsupervised learning. The talk will also outline the proposal to build a high-parallel "SP machine" as an open-source facility for further research by interested individuals and groups. BIO: Dr Gerry Wolff is Director of CognitionResearch.org. Previously, he held academic posts in the School of Informatics, University of Wales, Bangor, the Department of Psychology, University of Dundee, and the University Hospital of Wales, Cardiff. He has held a Research Fellowship with IBM in Winchester, UK, and he has worked for four years as a Software Engineer with Praxis Systems plc in Bath, UK. His first degree at Cambridge University was in Natural Sciences (specialising in Experimental Psychology) and his PhD at the University of Wales, Cardiff, was in the area of Cognitive Science. He is a Chartered Engineer and Member of the British Computer Society (Chartered IT Professional). Up to 1987, his main research interests were in developing computer models of language learning. Between 1987 and 2005 his research has focussed on the development of the SP theory. Between 2005 and 2012, he has been engaged full time on environmental campaigning (as Coordinator of Desertec-UK, K2S and Energy Fair) but is now devoting some time to promoting the development of an SP machine. Dr Wolff has numerous publications in a wide range of journals, collected papers and conference proceedings. Further information may be found at: www.cognitionresearch.org.

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Contact: mailto:h.c.sharp@open.ac.uk