David Fass, Jacob Feldman
We present an account of human concept learning-that is, learning of categories from examples-based on the principle of minimum descrip(cid:173) tion length (MDL). In support of this theory, we tested a wide range of two-dimensional concept types, including both regular (simple) and highly irregular (complex) structures, and found the MDL theory to give a good account of subjects' performance. This suggests that the intrin(cid:173) sic complexity of a concept (that is, its description -length) systematically influences its leamability.
1- The Structure of Categories
A number of different principles have been advanced to explain the manner in which hu(cid:173) mans learn to categorize objects. It has been variously suggested that the underlying prin(cid:173) ciple might be the similarity structure of objects , the manipulability of decision bound~ aries , or Bayesian inference . While many of these theories are mathematically well-grounded and have been successful in explaining a range of experimental findings, they have commonly only been tested on a narrow collection of concept types similar to the simple unimodal categories of Figure 1(a-e).