Hirtle explores modeling in the “Handbook of Spatial Cognition”


Stephen Hirtle, Professor at the iSchool, authored a chapter in the recently-published “Handbook of Spatial Cognition” (American Psychological Association, 2013). The volume provides an introduction to spatial cognition, a branch of cognitive psychology that explores how people gain and use knowledge about their environment to identify where they are, to locate resources, and to determine how to reach a specific location. Spatial Cognition touches on many disciplines and areas of inquiry including neuroscience, psychology, computer science, geography, sociology, architecture, anthropology, philosophy and information sciences.

Dr. Hirtle’s work looks at the building of computational models in spatial cognition to support the understanding of cognitive mechanisms, defining parameters, and testing empirical results. He provides an overview of the development of such models and the nature of modeling. He then details the diversity of approaches to modeling spatial cognition: qualitative modeling, synergistic models, robotic models, symbolic models, topological models, space syntax models and geographic models. At the end of the chapter, Hirtle offers a list of suggested readings to enhance one’s knowledge and understanding of spatial cognition modeling.

The “Handbook of Spatial Cognition” also includes chapters on the neuroscientific dimensions of spatial cognition, the online and offline systems needed to acquire and store spatial information, and the interpersonal dimensions of spatial cognition. The other contributing authors include researchers in psychology, education, biological sciences, computational neuroscience and robotics, and geography. It has been structured to serve as a text in advanced undergraduate and introductory graduate courses in the subject area; published by the American Psychological Association, the volume was edited by David Waller (Associate Professor of Psychology at Miami University, Ohio) and Lynn Nadel (the Regents Professor of Psychology and director of the Cognition and Neural Systems Program at the University of Arizona).

Dr. Stephen C. Hirtle is Professor in School of Information Sciences at the University of Pittsburgh, with joint appointments in the Department of Psychology and Intelligent Systems Program. He directs the Spatial Information Research Group at the University of Pittsburgh, which conducts research on the structure of cognitive maps, navigation in real and virtual spaces, and computational models for spatial cognition. He was the founding co-editor of Spatial Cognition and Computation, past-president of the Classification Society of North America and Book Review Editor of the Journal of Classification. He has had visiting appointments in Geoinformatics at the University of Augsburg in Germany, Geoinformation at the Technical University of Vienna in Austria, the Computer Science Department at Molde College in Norway, and the Artificial Intelligence Research Group at the Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand. His research interests include spatial information theory, cognitive science, geographic information systems, information visualization, and data mining. He has also served on numerous reviews panels for the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.