Problem Solving and Situated Cognition

In Philip Robbins & M. Aydede (eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Situated Cognition. Cambridge. 264--306 (2009)
Abstract
In the course of daily life we solve problems often enough that there is a special term to characterize the activity and the right to expect a scientific theory to explain its dynamics. The classical view in psychology is that to solve a problem a subject must frame it by creating an internal representation of the problem‘s structure, usually called a problem space. This space is an internally generable representation that is mathematically identical to a graph structure with nodes and links. The nodes can be annotated with useful information, and the whole representation can be distributed over internal and external structures such as symbolic notations on paper or diagrams. If the representation is distributed across internal and external structures the subject must be able to keep track of activity in the distributed structure. Problem solving proceeds as the subject works from an initial state in this mentally supported space, actively construction possible solution paths, evaluating them and heuristically choosing the best. Control of this exploratory process is not well understood, as it is not always systematic, but various heuristic search algorithms have been proposed and some experimental support has been provided for them.
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    Richard Menary (2010). Dimensions of Mind. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences 9 (4):561-578.

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