Analogical Processing: A Simulation and Empirical Corroboration

Janice Skorstad, Brian Falkenhainer, Dedre Gentner

This paper compares the performance of the Structure-Mapping Engine (SME), a cognitive simulation of analogy, with two aspects of human performance. Gentner’s Structure-Mapping theory predicts that soundness is highest for relational matches, while accessibility is highest for surface matches. These predictions have been borne out in psychological studies, and here we demonstrate that SME replicates these results. In particular, we ran SME on the same stories used in the psychological studies with two different kinds of match rules. In analogy mode, SME closely captures the human soundness ordering. In mere-appearance mode, SME captures the accessibility ordering. We briefly review the psychological studies, describe our computational experiments, and discuss the utility of SME as a cognitive modeling tool.

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