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OFAI-TR-95-06 ( 144kB g-zipped PostScript file,  123kB PDF file)

Connectionists and Statisticians, Friends or Foes?

Arthur Flexer

This investigation on relationships between the field of artificial neural networks (connectionism) and statistics starts with a look on relevant work based on a classification of possible points of contact. Then follows a distinction between connectionism seen as a tool for data analysis (engineering connectionism) and seen as a model for human thinking or, as one might say, a tool for cognitive or biological modeling (explanatory connectionism). It will be argued that statistics will have a major impact on the former but a rather minor on the latter. As a consequence, the gap between applied neural network research and research concerning cognitive modeling with artificial neural networks will become even bigger than it already is. Statistics will be adopted as the theory of engineering connectionism and therefore entail its development fom a purely empirical to a fullgrown theoretical science. Explanatory connectionism has its own problems and will have to undergo its own changes. Consequently, it will finally be seen as a science of its own independent from mere data analysis purposes.

Citation: Flexer A.: Connectionists and Statisticians, Friends or Foes?, in Mira J. & Sandoval F. (eds.), From Natural to Artificial Neural Computation, Proc. International Workshop on Artificial Neural Networks, Malaga-Torremolinos, Spain, June, Springer, LNCS 930, pp. 454-461, 1995. Also available as: TR-95-06.