Simplicity, Complexity, Unexpectedness, Cognition, Probability, Information
by Jean-Louis Dessalles
(created 31 December 2008)
(updated July 2015)
Situations that depart from norm are unexpected.
How much is such a situation or event unexpected? By definition, unexpectedness U is the difference between generation complexity and description complexity: Cw – C. Let’s compute both terms.
Cw(s) = Cw(H)
C(s) = C(r) + C(f) + C(s|r&f)Here, C(f|r) = C(f), as ‘running’ is not related to the concept of ‘nun’. If s can be considered unique in its class, then C(s|r&f) = 0.
U(s) = Cw(H) – C(f) – C(r)The corrective terms C(f) and C(r) account for the fact that departures from norm may somtimes concern only specialists. For the layperson, these two complexities are large and cancel out the generation complexity term. For instance, seeing a nun holding a rosary with an extra bead may be highly relevant to a priest, but remain a boring fact to an average individual.
Dessalles, J-L. (2008). La pertinence et ses origines cognitives - Nouvelles théories. Paris: Hermes-Science Publications.
Dimulescu, A. & Dessalles, J-L. (2009). Understanding narrative interest: Some evidence on the role of unexpectedness. In N. A. Taatgen & H. van Rijn (Eds.), Proceedings of the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, 1734-1739. Amsterdam, NL: Cognitive Science Society.
Saillenfest, A. & Dessalles, J-L. (2015). Some probability judgments may rely on complexity assessments. Proceedings of the 37th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society, to appear. Austin, TX: Cognitive Science Society.
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