Creating Scientific Concepts

Author: Nancy J Nersessian
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262293455
Format: PDF, Mobi
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How do novel scientific concepts arise? In Creating Scientific Concepts, Nancy Nersessian seeks to answer this central but virtually unasked question in the problem of conceptual change. She argues that the popular image of novel concepts and profound insight bursting forth in a blinding flash of inspiration is mistaken. Instead, novel concepts are shown to arise out of the interplay of three factors: an attempt to solve specific problems; the use of conceptual, analytical, and material resources provided by the cognitive-social-cultural context of the problem; and dynamic processes of reasoning that extend ordinary cognition. Focusing on the third factor, Nersessian draws on cognitive science research and historical accounts of scientific practices to show how scientific and ordinary cognition lie on a continuum, and how problem-solving practices in one illuminate practices in the other. Her investigations of scientific practices show conceptual change as deriving from the use of analogies, imagistic representations, and thought experiments, integrated with experimental investigations and mathematical analyses. She presents a view of constructed models as hybrid objects, serving as intermediaries between targets and analogical sources in bootstrapping processes. Extending these results, she argues that these complex cognitive operations and structures are not mere aids to discovery, but that together they constitute a powerful form of reasoning -- model-based reasoning -- that generates novelty. This new approach to mental modeling and analogy, together with Nersessian's cognitive-historical approach, make Creating Scientific Concepts equally valuable to cognitive science and philosophy of science.

Envisioning Science

Author: Felice Frankel
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262562058
Format: PDF, Mobi
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A complete guide to the creation of compelling science photographs.

The Geometry of Meaning

Author: Peter Gärdenfors
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262026783
Format: PDF, Kindle
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A novel cognitive theory of semantics that proposes that the meanings of words can be described in terms of geometric structures.

Category Theory for the Sciences

Author: David I. Spivak
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262320533
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Category theory was invented in the 1940s to unify and synthesize different areas in mathematics, and it has proven remarkably successful in enabling powerful communication between disparate fields and subfields within mathematics. This book shows that category theory can be useful outside of mathematics as a rigorous, flexible, and coherent modeling language throughout the sciences. Information is inherently dynamic; the same ideas can be organized and reorganized in countless ways, and the ability to translate between such organizational structures is becoming increasingly important in the sciences. Category theory offers a unifying framework for information modeling that can facilitate the translation of knowledge between disciplines. Written in an engaging and straightforward style, and assuming little background in mathematics, the book is rigorous but accessible to non-mathematicians. Using databases as an entry to category theory, it begins with sets and functions, then introduces the reader to notions that are fundamental in mathematics: monoids, groups, orders, and graphs -- categories in disguise. After explaining the "big three" concepts of category theory -- categories, functors, and natural transformations -- the book covers other topics, including limits, colimits, functor categories, sheaves, monads, and operads. The book explains category theory by examples and exercises rather than focusing on theorems and proofs. It includes more than 300 exercises, with solutions. Category Theory for the Sciences is intended to create a bridge between the vast array of mathematical concepts used by mathematicians and the models and frameworks of such scientific disciplines as computation, neuroscience, and physics.

Conceptual Spaces

Author: Peter Gärdenfors
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262572194
Format: PDF, ePub, Mobi
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A new theory of conceptual representations as a bridge between the symbolic and connectionist approaches.

True Enough

Author: Catherine Z. Elgin
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262341387
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Philosophy valorizes truth, holding that there can never be epistemically good reasons to accept a known falsehood, or to accept modes of justification that are not truth conducive. How can this stance account for the epistemic standing of science, which unabashedly relies on models, idealizations, and thought experiments that are known not to be true? In True Enough, Catherine Elgin argues that we should not assume that the inaccuracy of models and idealizations constitutes an inadequacy. To the contrary, their divergence from truth or representational accuracy fosters their epistemic functioning. When effective, models and idealizations are, Elgin contends, felicitous falsehoods that exemplify features of the phenomena they bear on. Because works of art deploy the same sorts of felicitous falsehoods, she argues, they also advance understanding. Elgin develops a holistic epistemology that focuses on the understanding of broad ranges of phenomena rather than knowledge of individual facts. Epistemic acceptability, she maintains, is a matter not of truth-conduciveness, but of what would be reflectively endorsed by the members of an idealized epistemic community -- a quasi-Kantian realm of epistemic ends.

Picturing Science and Engineering

Author: Felice C. Frankel
Publisher: Mit Press
ISBN: 9780262038553
Format: PDF, Docs
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A guide to making scientific photographs for presentations, journal submissions, and covers, featuring step-by-step instructions and case studies, by an award-winning science photographer; illustrated in color throughout. One of the most powerful ways for scientists to document and communicate their work is through photography. Unfortunately, most scientists have little or no training in that craft. In this book, celebrated science photographer Felice Frankel offers a guide for creating science images that are both accurate and visually stunning. Picturing Science and Engineering provides detailed instructions for making science photographs using the DSLR camera, the flatbed scanner, and the phone camera. The book includes a series of step-by-step case studies, describing how final images were designed for cover submissions and other kinds of visualizations. Lavishly illustrated in color throughout, the book encourages the reader to learn by doing, following Frankel as she recreates the stages of discovery that lead to a good science visual. Frankel shows readers how to present their work with graphics--how to tell a visual story--and considers issues of image adjustment and enhancement. She describes how developing the right visual to express a concept not only helps make science accessible to nonspecialists, but also informs the science itself, helping scientists clarify their thinking. Within the book are specific URLs where readers can view Frankel's online tutorials--visual "punctuations" of this printed edition. Additional materials, including tutorials and videos, can be found online at the book's website. Published with the help of funding from Furthermore: a program of the J. M. Kaplan fund

The Big Book of Concepts

Author: Gregory Murphy
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 9780262250061
Format: PDF, Mobi
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Concepts embody our knowledge of the kinds of things there are in the world. Tying our past experiences to our present interactions with the environment, they enable us to recognize and understand new objects and events. Concepts are also relevant to understanding domains such as social situations, personality types, and even artistic styles. Yet like other phenomenologically simple cognitive processes such as walking or understanding speech, concept formation and use are maddeningly complex.Research since the 1970s and the decline of the "classical view" of concepts have greatly illuminated the psychology of concepts. But persistent theoretical disputes have sometimes obscured this progress. The Big Book of Concepts goes beyond those disputes to reveal the advances that have been made, focusing on the major empirical discoveries. By reviewing and evaluating research on diverse topics such as category learning, word meaning, conceptual development in infants and children, and the basic level of categorization, the book develops a much broader range of criteria than is usual for evaluating theories of concepts.

Design Concepts in Programming Languages

Author: Franklyn Turbak
Publisher: MIT Press
ISBN: 0262303159
Format: PDF, ePub
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Hundreds of programming languages are in use today -- scripting languages for Internet commerce, user interface programming tools, spreadsheet macros, page format specification languages, and many others. Designing a programming language is a metaprogramming activity that bears certain similarities to programming in a regular language, with clarity and simplicity even more important than in ordinary programming. This comprehensive text uses a simple and concise framework to teach key ideas in programming language design and implementation. The book's unique approach is based on a family of syntactically simple pedagogical languages that allow students to explore programming language concepts systematically. It takes as premise and starting point the idea that when language behaviors become incredibly complex, the description of the behaviors must be incredibly simple. The book presents a set of tools (a mathematical metalanguage, abstract syntax, operational and denotational semantics) and uses it to explore a comprehensive set of programming language design dimensions, including dynamic semantics (naming, state, control, data), static semantics (types, type reconstruction, polymporphism, effects), and pragmatics (compilation, garbage collection). The many examples and exercises offer students opportunities to apply the foundational ideas explained in the text. Specialized topics and code that implements many of the algorithms and compilation methods in the book can be found on the book's Web site, along with such additional material as a section on concurrency and proofs of the theorems in the text. The book is suitable as a text for an introductory graduate or advanced undergraduate programming languages course; it can also serve as a reference for researchers and practitioners.