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date: 30 May 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Computational modeling implements developmental theory in a precise manner, allowing generation, explanation, integration, and prediction. Several modeling techniques are applied to development: symbolic rules, neural networks, dynamic systems, Bayesian processing of probability distributions, developmental robotics, and mathematical analysis. The relative strengths and weaknesses of each approach are identified and examples of each technique are described. Ways in which computational modeling contributes to developmental issues are documented. A probabilistic model of the vocabulary spurt shows that various psychological explanations for it are unnecessary. Constructive neural networks clarify the distinction between learning and development and show how it is possible to escape Fodor’s paradox. Connectionist modeling reveals different versions of innateness and how learning and evolution might interact. Agent-based models analyze the basic principles of evolution in a testable, experimental fashion that generates complete evolutionary records. Challenges posed by stimulus poverty and lack of negative examples are explored in neural-network models that learn morphology or syntax probabilistically from indirect negative evidence.

Keywords: computational modeling, symbolic rules, neural networks, dynamic systems, Bayesian probabilities, developmental robotics, vocabulary spurt, learning, development, and evolution, Fodor’s paradox, stimulus poverty, morphology and syntax.

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