multiple Cognitive Structures

David E. Wojick dwojick at HUGHES.NET
Sat Mar 24 13:00:17 EDT 2007

David Wojick wrote:
>It suggests that in typical cases there will be many useful ways to 
>systematically organize or classify a given body of information. If 
>so then there is probably no single way that will be generally 
>useful or representative. A working instance of this principle is 
>the NASA taxonomy system, with 11 independent taxonomies. However, 
>many of the underlying structures are not taxonomies, nor even 
>tree-structures. Many are networks with convergence as well as 
>tree-like divergence.

Dear David: I fully agree. A taxonomy reduces the complexity with at 
least one dimension. It creates a window with a perspective. 
Nevertheless, one can study the quality of the representation of the 
multi-dimensional structure which is represented. For example, ISI 
once launched the Atlas of Science (in the late 1980s) which was 
based on single linkage clustering of co-citations. That went wrong. 
However, co-citation analysis itself is an important tool.

Best wishes,  Loet

Dear Loet, co-citation analysis is indeed important. My group at OSTI 
is doing it to identify distant research communities that use similar 
methods, like Monte Carlo. Nuclear power and forest management both 
use it, so how do we get results to flow between them, since they do 
not read one another's journals?

Likewise, a given taxonomy can be good or poor as far as its logical 
completeness and coherence goes. The point is that there are many 
possible, equally good, taxonomies that instantiate different 
relations. There is not a single fundamental taxonomy that we are all 
trying to find. Moreover, a co-citation network is one structure and 
a taxonomy quite another, topologically. And like the typical hybrid 
taxonomy, the co-citation network probably reflects a number of 
distinct and different structures in the underlying science. 
Different citations reflect different relations between the papers. 
In short, the number of important yet distinct structures is quite 

My general theory of information structure is intended to capture 
this multiplicity. However, I do think that the most fundamental 
stucture is the underlying reasoning that guides the research. 
Results raise questons and questions lead to results, which raise new 
questions, and so on. There are well defined paths in the reasoning, 
many of which are relfected in citation paths.


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