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SOME PRINCIPLES OF MEMORY SCHEMATA

IP.com Disclosure Number: IPCOM000128900D
Original Publication Date: 1975-Jul-01
Included in the Prior Art Database: 2005-Sep-20
Document File: 12 page(s) / 46K

Publishing Venue

Software Patent Institute

Related People

DANIEL O. BOBROW: AUTHOR [+4]

Abstract

A fundamental aspect of the structure of material contained within a large, intelligent memory system is that the contexts in which units of the stored information are accessed are critically important in determining how that information is interpreted and used. There are numerous proposals for the representation of information within memory. Most of the schemes currently under active consideration can be viewed as variants of list structures or semantic network structures. All these proposals have a number of common features, including context-independent linkage between units, and separation of processing and data elements. In this paper we propose a different form for the representation of information which embodies the opposite assumptions about linkage and the separation of data and process. We examine some implications of these memory structures with respect to how the connections among different memory units are formed and interpreted, and we examine some of the issues of processing that arise when these memory structures are used. The form of our structures is an amalgamation of the principles from the literature on semantic networks, (for example, Norman, Rumelhart, & LNR, 1975; Quillian, 1969) the literature on actors (Hewitt, Bishop, & Steiger, 1974; Kay, 1974) and the new ideas on ";frames"; (Minsky, 1975; Winograd, 1975). We call our structures schemata to emphasize that they differ somewhat from any existing proposals. The word ";schema"; is taken from the psychological literature, where it has had a long history, most commonly associated with the work on memory by Bartlett (1932), and by Piaget. We propose that one schema refers to another only through use of a description which is dependent on the context of the original reference. We also propose that these schemata are active processing elements which can be activated from higher level purposes and expectations, or from input data which must be accounted for.

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Page 1 of 12

THIS DOCUMENT IS AN APPROXIMATE REPRESENTATION OF THE ORIGINAL.

©; Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, July, 1975

SOME PRINCIPLES OF MEMORY SCHEMATA

BY DANIEL O. BOBROW AND DONALD A. NORMAN 1 CSL 75~4 JULY 1975

This paper deals with two related issues about memory: access and processing. Consideration of the properties of human memory lead us to suggest that memory is organized into structural units: schemata. We suggest that memory schemata refer to one another by means of context dependent descriptions that specify the referent unambiguously only with respect to a particular context. We argue that this method of memory reference has a number of desirable features for any intelligent memory system. For one, it leads automatically to metaphorical and analogical match of memory structures. For another, it produces systems that are robust and relatively insensitive to errors.

Consideration of systems which have limits on processing resources leads to some basic principles of processing that apply to memory structures. The quality of output of some processes is limited by the quality of data available to them (these are data-limited processes). The quality of the output of other processes is limited by the amount of processing resources available to them (these are resource-limited processes). All processes are either data-limited or resource-limited. We suggest that the overall system is driven from two levels -- by the data, and by concepts or hypotheses of what is expected. These considerations of processing principles provide some useful interpretations of psychological phenomena, and suggest possible useful computational models for artificial systems.

Key Words and Phrases:

memory, access, schemata, human processing models, context-dependent descriptions, data- limited processes, resource-limited processes

CR Categories:

3.65,3.36

XEROX

PALO ALTO RESEARCH CENTER 3333 COYOTE HILL ROAD / PALO ALTO / CALIFORNIA 94304

TABLE OF CONTENTS

I. Introduction.....1
II. Memory Access Using Descriptions....2
A. Context-dependent descriptions....3
B. The form of a description....5

1 Donald A. Norman is in the Department of Psychology, University of California, San Diego.

Xerox Corporation Page 1 Jul 01, 1975

Page 2 of 12

SOME PRINCIPLES OF MEMORY SCHEMATA

C. Properties of context-dependent descriptions....6
III. Processing Structures.....8
A. Basic processing principles....10
B. Data-limited and resource-limited processes....11
C. Event driven schemata....13
D. Depth of processing....15
E. The organization of processing....16
IV. Summary.....19
References.....22

I. INTRODUCTION

A fundamental aspect of the structure of material contained within a large, intelligent memory system is that the contexts in which units of the stored information are accessed are critically important in determining how that information is interpreted and used. There are numerous proposals for the representation of information within memory. Most of the schemes currently...