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Spatial Cognition (WS 2018)

Organizer: Marco Ragni
Assistant: Paulina Friemann


The domain of spatial reasoning has drawn lots of attention in the past decades both from computer scientists and cognitive scientists. While cognitive science tries to construct models for internal processes of the brain during reasoning tasks, computer science offers powerful methods to learn from data and make predictions. The goal of this seminar is to implement models of spatial relational reasoning and to adapt them to the prediction task on an individual level. In particular, seminar participants will be given the chance to extend existing approaches or develop new accounts on their own.

The models which will be available for selection are the following:

  • Topic 1 (2 students): Artificial Neural Network
    Ragni, M., & Klein, A. (2012). Deductive Reasoning-Using Artificial Neural Networks to Simulate Preferential Reasoning. In IJCCI (pp. 635-638).
  • Topic 2 (2 students): Dynamic Fields
    Kounatidou, P., Richter, M., & Schöner, G. (2018). A Neural Dynamic Architecture That Autonomously Builds Mental Models. In T. T. Rogers, Rau, M., Zhu, X., & Kalish, C. W. (Eds.), Proceedings of the 40th Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society (pp. 643–648) (1-2 students)
  • Topic 3 (2 students): Probabilistic Model
    Ragni, M., & Becker, B. (2010). Preferences in Cardinal Direction. In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (Vol. 32, No. 32).
  • Topic 4 (2 students): Mental Models
    Krumnack, A., Bucher, L., Nejasmic, J., & Knauff, M. (2010). Spatial reasoning as verbal reasoning. In Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society (Vol. 32, No. 32).
  • Topic 5 (2 students): Mental Logics
    Van Der Henst, J. B. (2002). Mental model theory versus the inference rule approach in relational reasoning. Thinking & Reasoning, 8(3), 193-203.
  • Topic 6 (2 students): Mental Models
    Bara, B. G., Bucciarelli, M., & Lombardo, V. (2001). Model theory of deduction: A unified computational approach. Cognitive Science, 25(6), 839-901.

Note: This article contains approaches not only for relational reasoning, but you will only be required to implement the relational part.

Theoretical Background

  • Goodwin, G. P., & Johnson-Laird, P. N. (2005). Reasoning about relations. Psychological Review112(2), 468-493
  • Ragni, M., & Knauff, M. (2013). A theory and a computational model of spatial reasoning with preferred mental models. Psychological Review, 120(3), 561-588.

Important Dates & Deadlines

  • Oct 15th, 2018, 12:00-14:00: Introductory Meeting
  • Oct 24th, 2018: Registration Deadline (via HisInOne)
  • Oct 30th, 2018, 14:00-16:00: Setup Meeting, building 101, room 01-016 (Framework installation, demo model implementation)
  • Dec 3nd, 2018, 12:00-14:00: Midterm presentation of preliminary results, building 106, room SR 00-007
  • Jan 6th, 2019, 23:59: Deadline for the written report (submitted via repository)
  • Jan 11th-12th, 2019, 9:00-14:00: Blockseminary, building 051, room SR 03-026


  • Implementation of a model for spatial relational reasoning in the CCOBRA framework
  • Depending on the model:
    • Implement expansion for cardinal directions
    • Adapting the model for individual reasoners
    • Test predictions on benchmark experimental data
    • Propose and implement improvements
  • Presentation of your preliminary & final results
    • Theoretical and computational foundation
    • Simulation performance
    • Improvements
  • Written report of your work (~6 pages, CogSci Layout)
    • Introduction/Motivation
    • Theoretical Foundation
    • Method/Model
    • Results
    • Conclusions/Discussion