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Dynamic Memory. A Theory of Reminding and Learning in Computers and People - Schank R.C.

Schank R.C. Dynamic Memory. A Theory of Reminding and Learning in Computers and People - Cambridge University Press, 1982. - 250 p.
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We thus get a hierarchical sequence of structures, each responsible for part of the processing action and thus part of the merhory storage. The higher level the structure responsible for processing, the greater its generality and hence the greater the possibility for learning across contexts.
Such a theory is, in principle, not very new. Various theories of semantic memory for example, have been dependent on hierarchical views of memory. But it is one thing to propose that people are mammals and birds are animals and quite another to attempt to account for learning, and understanding of episodes.
We are claiming then, that episodic memory uses a sequence of structures in sucessive abstraction. These structures are all active at the same time. They all guide processing and store memories. They account for our ability to learn and generalize what we have learned. They also account for the reason that we get confused and forget.
The structures we have proposed have their analogue in semantic categories proposed for semantic memory models. However, we do not believe that semantic memory, if it does exist, carries much weight in the processing of inputs in ordinary life. Our lives consist of experiences that require memory structures that are extremely complex. This complexity is accounted for by what we have presented here.
Some perspective
Thus the theory is that structures in memory serve to tell us how other structures in memory behave. Any memory structure can tell us about how a group of other structures is likely to function. A MOP simply tells us about scenes for example. At the same time, that same memory structure can be seen as a generalization of a more specific memory structure. It also can be seen as a specification of a more general memory structure.' In principle such a scheme does not end. And, in fact that is not an unhappy conclusion. Everything is connected to everything else in memory. In addition, everything can be seen in terms of everything else. All things ate in some ways similar and in some ways different from all other things. So it is with memory structures. That is how a memory can come to be dynamic.
Where we have been
It is relevant at this point to consider the relationship between the work-in Schank and Abelson (1977) and the ideas expressed in this book. In that work, we suggested that, in order to process language, various high level knowledge structures were necessary. We proposed scripts, plans, goals, and themes, as four kinds of structures that had to be called into play during the processing of a natural language text.
The work here departed from that idea in what is really a very simple fashion. We have pointed out that people are not passive processors of information. They bring to bear every bit of relevant knowledge that they can find from their own experiences to help them process new experiences. Thus the obvious conclusion is that people use their memories in processing natural language texts.
Thus, the major point of this work was to rewrite the notions proposed in Schank and Abelson (1977) in memory terms. But when scripts were examined from a memory perspective something was lacking. The results that were available about memory with respect to scripts indicated that people used scripts in a different way than we had initially imagined. Sharing of information across script boundaries caused memory confusions (Bower, 1978). To account for this the notion of a script had to be reassembled.
As we reconstructed the notion of a script we began to see that the structures we proposed earlier would work as memory structures, too. That is, we noticed that memory and processing structures were likely to be the same. Thus the simple conclusion: What we proposed in Schank and Abelson was right, but we did not go far enough. Scripts, plans, goals, and themes, are memory structures too.
Dynamic memory
It has been my habit in scientific inquiry, to isolate a kind of entity that may exist, and then to attempt to find out how many of that entity actually exist, and what they are exactly. I tried to do this with scripts, etc., taking into account the new requirements that these structures also be memory structures and that they conform to the psychological data on memory confusions, reconstruction, and my own work on reminding. But I could not isolate a fixed set of structures
The more I tried, the more it became obvious to me that there probably was not a fixed, predetermined set of structures. Different people structure the world in different ways of course. There is no reason why structures that are based in experience should bear a relationship to any other personís structures. Memories should only be identical for people with identical experiences, and it is not even clear if they should be identical then.
Giving up the requirement for a finite fixed set of memory structures introduced a random element that, coupled with the reminding data, seemed to suggest a method of learning and generalization that would be of value. Thus, the second conclusion here is: there is no fixed set of predetermined structures in memory. We learn to create and modify structures, and do so on the basis of our experience.
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