The EPAM family of models is somewhat out of vogue in the cognitive modeling community, yet it represents one of the most thoroughly validated models of learning and concept attainment produced by the field. Rather than speculate why this might be the case, it is perhaps more useful to point out that this may well be a mistake. (Bradley Best)

EPAM (Elementary Perceiver and Memoriser) is a cognitive architecture created by Herbert Simon, in association with Ed Feigenbaum and Howard Richman. EPAM models how humans learn to recognise patterns, and how learning affects recall and categorisation behaviour.

The learning processes are largely driven by the construction of a discrimination net, which provides an index into long-term memory. Each known pattern stored in long-term memory is known as a chunk, hence the term chunking theory describes this type of architecture.

Some important applications include:

  • verbal learning
  • letter recognition
  • chess positions (through Perceiver)
  • digit learning / expertise

Software

An implementation of EPAM VI, the final version, along with two important technical reports, can be found at: http://www.pahomeschoolers.com/epam/

Publications

Publications on EPAM fall into three broad groups. Those from 1958-1963 were based on work done with E.A. Feigenbaum, those from 1989-2002 were based on work done with H.B. Richman, and the rest are written by Herbert Simon himself or based on one-off projects with other researchers.

  1. Publications with E.A. Feigenbaum:
    • E.A. Feigenbaum, An information processing theory of verbal learning. Report P-1817. Santa Monica, Callifornia: The RAND Corporation, 1959.
    • E.A. Feigenbaum, The simulation of verbal learning behavior. Proceedings of the 1961 Western Joint Computer Conference, 1961, 19, 121-132.
    • E.A. Feigenbaum and H.A. Simon, Forgetting in an association memory. Reprints of the 1961 National Conference of the Association for Computing Machinery, 1961, 16, 202-205.
    • E.A. Feigenbaum and H.A. Simon, A theory of the serial position effect. British Journal of Psychology, 1962, 53, 307-320. [P-2375 from 1961]
    • E.A. Feigenbaum and H.A. Simon, Generalization of an elementary perceiving and memorizing machine. Information processing 1962, Proceedings of the IFIP Congress 62. Amsterdam: North-Holland Publishing Co., 1962, 401-406.
    • E.A. Feigenbaum and H.A. Simon, Brief notes on the EPAM theory of verbal learning. In C.N. Cofer & B.S. Musgrave (Eds.), Verbal Behavior and Learning. pp. 333-335. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963.
    • E.A. Feigenbaum and H.A. Simon, Performance of a reading task by an elementary perceiving and memorizing program. Behavioral Science, 8:72-76, 1963.
    • H.A. Simon and E. A. Feigenbaum, An information-processing theory of some effects of similarity, familiarization and meaningfulness in verbal learning. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 3:385-396, 1964.
    • E.A. Feigenbaum and H.A. Simon, EPAM-like models of recognition and learning. Cognitive Science, 8:305-336, 1984.
  2. Publications with H.B. Richman:
    • H.B. Richman and H.A. Simon, Context effects in letter perception: Comparison of two theories. Psychological Review, 96:417-432, 1989.
    • H.B. Richman, Discrimination net models of concept formation. In J.D.H. Fisher, M.J. Pazzani and P. Langley (Eds.), Concept Formation: Knowledge and experience in unsupervised learning, pp. 103-126, 1991.
    • H.B. Richman, J.J. Staszewski, and H.A. Simon, Simulation of expert memory using EPAM IV. Psychological Review, 102:305-330, 1995.
    • F. Gobet, H.B. Richman, J.J. Staszewski and H.A. Simon, Goals, representations and strategies in a concept attainment task: The EPAM model. In D.L. Medin (Ed.), The psychology of learning and motivation: Vol 37 (pp. 265-290), 1997.
    • H.B. Richman and H.A. Simon, Simulations of classification learning using EPAM VI. Complex Information Processing Working Paper 552. Carnegie-Mellon University, Dept. of Psychology. 2002
    • H.B. Richman, H.A. Simon and E.A. Feigenbaum, Simulations of paired associate learning using EPAM VI. Complex Information Processing Working Paper 553. Carnegie-Mellon University, Dept. of Psychology. 2002
  3. Other publications:
    • L.W. Greg and H.A. Simon, An information-processing explanation of one-trial and incremental learning. Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 6:780-787, 1967.
    • H.A. Simon, How big is a chunk? Science, 183:482-488, 1974.
    • H.A. Simon, Information processing models of cognition. Annual Review of Psychology, 30:363-396, 1979.
    • H.A. Simon, The information storage system called “human memory”. In M.R. Rosenzweig & E.J. Bennett (Eds.) Neural mechanisms of learning and memory, 1979.
    • B.J. Best, “Using the EPAM theory to guide cognitive model rule induction.” Proceedings of the 13th Conference on Behavior Representation In Modeling and Simulation. 2006.

Related architectures to EPAM include:

  1. SAL
    • D. L. Hintzman, Explorations with a discrimination net model for paired-associate learning. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 5:123-162, 1968.
  2. WEPAM
    • W.H. Wynn, An information-processing model of certain aspects of paired-associate learning. (PhD Thesis). University of Texas, Austin, TX. 1966.
  3. CHREST
    • see other pages on this website
  4. MOSAIC
    • see other pages on this website