The Representational Manifold
Manolo Martínez, Universitat de Barcelona, Spain
Posters 2 Poster
Pacific Ballroom H-O
Fri, 26 Aug, 19:30 - 21:30 Pacific Time (UTC -7)
The question about the nature of representations (that is, about which kinds of entities or processes can be said to be about or stand for other entities or processes) is a central theoretical problem in cognitive science. I present a framework aimed at systematizing the debate around this question. I claim, first, that representations are primarily signals tailored for information transmission, for the sake of information transmission---as opposed to entities that merely happen to carry information. Second, I argue that a way to establish empirically that some entity is a representation, therefore, is to show that it is adapted for information transmission---that it aims at optimally trading-off three key information-transmission budgets: 1) rate (or transmission and storage costs); 2) distortion (or faithfulness of the transmitted information); and 3) computational complexity. Paradigmatic examples of representational phenomena typically sit close to the Pareto frontier of a Rate-Distortion-Complexity multiobjective optimization: the representational manifold of the title.