An approximate representation of objects underlies physical reasoning

TitleAn approximate representation of objects underlies physical reasoning
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2022
AuthorsLi, Y, Wang, YQ, Boger, T, Smith, K, Gershman, S, Ullman, T
Date Published03/2022

People make fast and reasonable predictions about the physical behavior of everyday objects. To do so, people may be using principled approximations, similar to models developed by engineers for the purposes of real-time physical simulations. We hypothesize that people use simplified object approximations for tracking and action (the "body" representation), as opposed to fine-grained forms for recognition (the "shape" representation). We used three classic psychophysical tasks (causality perception, collision detection, and change detection) in novel settings that dissociate body and shape. People's behavior across tasks indicates that they rely on approximate bodies for physical reasoning, and that this approximation lies between convex hulls and fine-grained shapes.


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