The Harmonic Mind
From Neural Computation to Optimality-Theoretic Grammar Volume I: Cognitive Architecture Volume II: Linguistic and Philosophical Implications
The Harmonic Mind presents a unique synthetic vision of cognitive science, one that everyone interested in cognition, language, mind, and brain will want to know and understand. Over 23 chapters in two volumes, Smolensky, Legendre, and their collaborators lay out a thorough testament to their view that the symbolic and subsymbolic paradigms must be brought together to understand the nature of the human mind. The resulting work is impressive in its scope, encompassing fundamental principles of mental processing and representation and their application to linguistic theory, language processing, and universal grammar. Students just entering the field will find all the background they need to understand the content of the book, while seasoned scholars will find substantial food for thought and discussion.
James L. McClelland, Carnegie Mellon University
Smolensky and Legendre have written a marvelous book of sweeping scope. It contains state-of-the-art research on topics tanging from neural networks to phonology and syntax, including language acquisition, psycholinguistics, and computational linguistics. But its major contribution is its integration of this diverse research under the single unifying theme of optimization, instantiated as harmony maximization in neural networks and optimality theory in symbolic grammars. Its grand vision and sense of wonder and excitement about the phenomena it describes is reminiscent of early work in cognitive science and a welcome antidote to much specialized contemporary research. It serves as a model for, and hopefully will stimulate, integrative research that pays careful attention to empirical phenomena.
Mark Johnson, Professor of Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences, Brown University
The Harmonic Mind is a very comprehensive and ambitious effort to integrate connectionist and symbolic processing, and Smolensky, Legendre, and their associates present this integration in the domain of language. Researchers of different persuasions in cognitive science and linguistics will find these volumes very rewarding. I believe that the research presented here will raise very substantially the level of discourse concerning the relationship of connectionism and symbolic processing.
Aravind K. Joshi, Henry Salvatori Professor of Computer and Cognitive Science, University of Pennsylvania