Workshop on the Logic of Simplicity

The Logic of Simplicity
Organized by
Center for Formal Epistemology, Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, USA June 7-9. 2013

Workshop subject: Ockham’s razor is the characteristic bias toward simple hypotheses that has characterized scientific inquiry since Copernicus.  But what is it, exactly?  This workshop aims to revisit that question from a fresh logical perspective.  Potential candidates for the simplicity order include dimensionality, Kolmogorov complexity, and VC dimension.  Candidates for Ockham’s razor, itself, include logical theories for revising belief in light of such an order in the deterministic case and a host of model selection methods on the side of statistics and machine learning.   This exploratory, interdisciplinary workshop will explore a number of new and interesting logical questions at the interface of logic and scientific method. Which orders are simplicity orders?  Is simplicity relative to questions or subject to other framing effects? How should a simplicity order be modified in light of new information?  What may one believe in light of a simplicity order and given information?  What should one do if the simplicity order branches?   Are the essential features of a simplicity order preserved by the associated belief revision rule? Are standard belief revision principles descriptively plausible in scientific applications? Is simplicity absolute or relative to framing effects?  Is there any normative reason to revise according to simplicity rather than some other principle?  Addressing these fundamental questions promises both to sharpen our conception of scientific method and to broaden our ideas about the logic of belief revision, itself.

Tentative list of speakers:

Alexandru Baltag
James Delgrande
Nina Gierasimczuk
Kevin Kelly
Hanti Lin
Jacek Malinowski
Eric Martin
Sonja Smets
Oliver Schulte

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