From algorithmic to subjective randomness

Thomas L. Griffiths, Joshua B. Tenenbaum

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

16 Scopus citations


We explore the phenomena of subjective randomness as a case study in understanding how people discover structure embedded in noise. We present a rational account of randomness perception based on the statistical problem of model selection: given a stimulus, inferring whether the process that generated it was random or regular. Inspired by the mathematical definition of randomness given by Kolmogorov complexity, we characterize regularity in terms of a hierarchy of automata that augment a finite controller with different forms of memory. We find that the regularities detected in binary sequences depend upon presentation format, and that the kinds of automata that can identify these regularities are informative about the cognitive processes engaged by different formats.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems 16 - Proceedings of the 2003 Conference, NIPS 2003
PublisherNeural information processing systems foundation
ISBN (Print)0262201526, 9780262201520
StatePublished - 2004
Externally publishedYes
Event17th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NIPS 2003 - Vancouver, BC, Canada
Duration: Dec 8 2003Dec 13 2003

Publication series

NameAdvances in Neural Information Processing Systems
ISSN (Print)1049-5258


Other17th Annual Conference on Neural Information Processing Systems, NIPS 2003
CityVancouver, BC

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Computer Networks and Communications
  • Information Systems
  • Signal Processing


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