Psychology of discovery
Learning from examples
Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Natural Sciences in General
Abstract Human and machine discovery are gradual problem-solving processes of searching large problem spaces for incompletely defined goal objects. Research on problem solving has usually focused on search of an “instance space” (empirical exploration) and a “hypothesis space” (generation of theories). In scientific discovery, search must often extend to other spaces as well: spaces of possible problems, of new or improved scientific instruments, of new problem representations, of new concepts, and others. This paper focuses especially on the processes for finding new problem representations and new concepts, which are relatively new domains for research on discovery. Scientific discovery has usually been studied as an activity of individual investigators, but these individuals are positioned in a larger social structure of science, being linked by the “blackboard” of open publication (as well as by direct collaboration). Even while an investigator is working alone, the process is strongly influenced by knowledge and skills stored in memory as a result of previous social interaction. In this sense, all research on discovery, including the investigations on individual processes discussed in this paper, is social psychology, or even sociology.
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