Fragment Completion in Humans and Machines

Part of Advances in Neural Information Processing Systems 14 (NIPS 2001)

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David Jacobs, Bas Rokers, Archisman Rudra, Zili Liu


Partial information can trigger a complete memory. At the same time, human memory is not perfect. A cue can contain enough information to specify an item in memory, but fail to trigger that item. In the context of word memory, we present experiments that demonstrate some basic patterns in human memory errors. We use cues that consist of word frag- ments. We show that short and long cues are completed more accurately than medium length ones and study some of the factors that lead to this behavior. We then present a novel computational model that shows some of the flexibility and patterns of errors that occur in human memory. This model iterates between bottom-up and top-down computations. These are tied together using a Markov model of words that allows memory to be accessed with a simple feature set, and enables a bottom-up process to compute a probability distribution of possible completions of word frag- ments, in a manner similar to models of visual perceptual completion.