8 February 2019 - Jonathan Nelson: Seminar
Masterminding: Gamifying the psychology of uncertainty
Notions of entropy and uncertainty are fundamental to many domains, ranging from the philosophy of science to physics. One important application is to quantify the expected usefulness of possible experiments (or questions or tests). In the first part of the talk, I will overview our recent work to articulate a unified two-parameter framework for the mathematics of entropy and information.
In the second part of the talk, I will introduce Entropy Mastermind, a tool we have developed for psychology and education. I will show how two core concepts in the mathematics of uncertainty, entropy and information, can be gamified intuitively with Entropy Mastermind. I will overview current research, and outline our vision for bringing cognition, probabilistic models, education, and automatic experiment design techniques together.
Demo versions of Entropy Mastermind are posted at http://jonathandnelson.com/curious/masterminding.html
(Collaborators (to date) include Lara Bertram, Gustavo Cevolani, Vincenzo Crupi, Matthias Hofer, Laura Martignon, Bjoern Meder, Jay Myung, Elif Özel, Mark Pitt, Eric Schulz, and Katya Tentori)
Since 2017 I have been a lecturer in Experimental Cognitive Psychology at University of Surrey.
I completed my PhD (2005) Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), with a dissertation on Optimal Experimental Design as a Theory of Perceptual and Cognitive Information Acquisition [http://www.jonathandnelson.com/papers/nelsonThesisCh1.pdf].
I worked from 2008-2017 as a research scientist at the Center for Adaptive Behavior and Cognition, at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development [https://www.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/en].
I am an affiliated researcher with the Berlin School of Mind and Brain [http://www.mind-and-brain.de/home/] at Humboldt University, where I occasionally teach PhD students about Cognitive Science.
I am also a guest researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development [https://www.mpib-berlin.mpg.de/en].
Much of my research focuses on the psychology, mathematics, philosophy, and cognitive neuroscience of information. I like building (and playing!) games that teach key concepts in the mathematics of uncertainty, and hearing that children (after playing these games) tell their teacher "that was not math; that was a game". I also like "harnessing the creativity of the computer", so to speak, to figure out what various formal models entail, and when and why different models agree with or contradict each other, for instance about what exactly entropy is, or what would constitute a useful experiment in a probabilistic Bayesian framework.
I am interested in the relationship of perception (e.g. eye movements) and cognition, and more felt (gut feelings) vs more explicit representations. I also work on other themes in judgment and decision making and medical decision making, and on more applied aspects of decision making, such as figuring out which kind of information formats are most helpful for representing probabilities, relative to particular goals (see Wu et al., 2017).