Whitman A. Richards

Whitman Richards is currently Professor Emeritus in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, and is affiliated with MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL). He has been a member of MIT's faculty for fifty years, and has authored over 200 publications and presentations.

  • Anigrafs


    Experiments in Cooperative Cognitive Architecture

    Whitman A. Richards

    An innovative proposal for understanding how mental organisms make decisions and control behavior.

    In this book, Whitman Richards offers a novel and provocative proposal for understanding decision making and human behavior. Building on Valentino Braitenberg's famous “vehicles,” Richards describes a collection of mental organisms that he calls “daemons”—virtual correlates of neural modules. Daemons have favored choices and make decisions that control behaviors of the group to which they belong, with each daemon preferring a different outcome. Richards arranges these preferences in graphs, linking similar choices, which thus reinforce each other. “Anigrafs” refers to these two components—animals, or the mental organisms (agents or daemons), and the graphs that show similarity relations. Together these two components are the basis of a new cognitive architecture.

    In Richards's account, a collection of daemons compete for control of the cognitive system in which they reside; the challenge is to get the daemons to agree on one of many choices. Richards explores the results of group decisions, emphasizing the Condorcet voting procedure for aggregating preferences. A neural mechanism is proposed. Anigrafs presents a series of group decisions that incorporate simple and complex movements, as well as aspects of cognition and belief. Anigrafs concludes with a section on “metagrafs,” which chart relationships between different anigraf models.

    • Paperback $30.00
  • Natural Computation

    Selected Readings

    Whitman A. Richards

    Designed for the MIT course, Natural Computation, this extensive book of readings combines mathematics, artificial intelligence, computer science, experimental psychology, and neurophysiology in studying perception. Mathematics is emphasized for making perceptual inferences and the spectrum of mathematical techniques used is very broad. While the more than thirty readings focus primarily on vision, they also encompass the study of sound perception and the interpretation and application of forces including movement. Each article is a self contained example of how a perceptual problem may be tackled and solved. For example, what makes wood look like wood not like stone, sand, or grass? How can we represent three dimensional shapes when the same shape is rarely seen in exactly the same way? Each of the five sections is preceded by an introduction and the book concludes with problem sets.

    A Bradford Book.

    • Hardcover $50.00
    • Paperback $33.00