Introduction to the Soar Cognitive Architecture


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List of topics. Click on one or scroll past to tutorial body.


HT tutorial: Overview of the hungry-thirsty model


We will use a deliberately very simple model to teach the basic concepts in Soar. Suppose you have a robot that can carry out just two actions, EAT and DRINK. Imagine that initially it is both hungry and thirsty, and that its goal is to be not hungry. How can it use its actions to achieve that goal?

The problem is presented to Soar in terms of states. This is done straightforwardly:

This analysis gets implemented in Soar as a problem space model made up of production rules. We will use the model in the exercises incorporated in the tutorial. Answers for these exercises are also in the tutorial, and should only be viewed once you have completed the relevant exercise.

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Fundamentals of Soar concepts


For a discussion of Soar as a candidate Unified Theory of Cognition (UTC), see Allen Newell's Unified Theories of Cognition  (1990). It is important as background, but we will not be explicitly dealing with it in the tutorial, except to note that the book includes arguments and discussion of the virtues of unification:

The intellectual origins of this approach can be found in (among many other sources) the work on Production System architectures from the 1970s onwards -- Newell's 1980 paper on The problem space as a fundamental category of cognition,  and his 1982 paper on The knowledge level.  Full references for these and other relevant papers are included in the References section of this tutorial.

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Soar as a Theoretically Constrained Cognitive Architecture