Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy (MCMP)

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Remembering Patrick Suppes (LMU Munich, 9 September 2015)

Patrick Suppes (1922-2014) was a true polymath. The list of scientific disciplines to which he significantly contributed ranges from philosophy (esp. the philosophy of science) and logic to psychology (esp. learning and measurement theory), computer science, physics, and neuroscience. After graduating from New York’s Columbia University in 1950, where he had worked under the supervision of Ernest Nagel, Suppes spent the next 64 years at Stanford University. During this time, he published 34 books, including the monumental Representation and Invariance in Scientific Structures, which won the Lakatos Award in 2002, as well as hundreds of papers. Suppes’ research has always been driven by a special combination of empiricism and pragmatism. He has always insisted on taking details seriously, and has always had an eye on practical applications. For example, in 1967, he founded the Computer Curriculum Corporation. This company was the first to focus on interactive computer-assisted learning in the classroom. Suppes also founded and, from 1990 to 2010, directed Stanford’s Education Program for Gifted Youth, which has been a huge success. For the last 15 years his main focus was running the Suppes Bain Lab research program, which focused on three main areas: (I) The continued study of language in the brain, (II) the psychological and neural interactions of couples in psychotherapy, in music experiments, and in neural economic games and (III) continual theoretical research on the applications of weakly coupled phase oscillators, as models of brain computations to current experiments. The goal of this event is to celebrate the life and work of Patrick Suppes, who has had close ties to LMU Munich for many years. Attendance is free and open to everyone.


Time: 09:30 - 13:15
Location:  W401, Prof. Huber Platz 2


09:30 - 09:45 Stephan Hartmann: Remembering Patrick Suppes
09:45 - 10:45 Aimee Drolet: Free-Association Behavior as a Predictor of Consumers’ Repeat Choices
10:45 - 11:15 Coffee Break
11:15 - 12:15 Sam Sanders: Dispensing with the Continuum, 25 Years Later (Slides, 1,1 MB)
12:15 - 13:15 Michelle U. Nguyen and Colleen E. Crangle: The Study of Emotion using Psychotherapy Data (Slides, 3,3 MB)


Michelle U. Nguyen (Stanford) and Colleen E. Crangle (Stanford/Louisville): The Study of Emotion using Psychotherapy Data

Psychotherapy is a rich context for the study of emotion. Over the course of several years in the Suppes Brain Lab at Stanford University, video, audio, and EEG recordings were made of couples and individuals undergoing psychotherapy. We will describe the data collection process and the results of studies recently completed for three couples focusing on the emotions of Tension, Anger, Sadness, and Joy. Using the behavioral data, five specific emotion-centered hypothesis were evaluated regarding the emotional expressiveness of a couple and the individuals within a couple. Methods were also developed to automatically recognize the emotions being expressed from the audio data, and these results are

Aimee Drolet (UCLA): Free-Association Behavior as a Predictor of Consumers’ Repeat Choices

Most consumer choices are repeat choices driven by habits. Psychological accounts of habits have generally emphasized the driving role of external factors, such as contextual cues, in habit performance. The present research builds on Patrick Suppes' Axiomatic Theory of Choice Based on Habits (Rather Than Preferences). In particular, we investigated the influence of an individual-difference variable that reflects a more internal driver of habits. Three studies showed a strong negative relationship between people’s tendency to generate relatively uncommon word responses in free-association tasks and their tendency to repeat choice behavior across different consumer contexts. These results are consistent with Suppes' Theory insofar as it implicates free associations as having a significant role in habit performance. Further, our results inform practical research on predictors of consumers’ repeat choices.

Sam Sanders (Ghent University/MCMP): Dispensing with the Continuum, 25 Years Later

In the late eighties, Patrick Suppes initiated the program Dispensing with the continuum. The aim was to show that a large part of physics can be developed without invoking the fundamental notion of real number central to mathematics, and in line with Hilbert’s program for the foundations of mathematics. Together with Chuaqui, Sommer, and Alper, Suppes developed an infinitesimal calculus in which initial steps towards the goals of the Dispensing program were successfully carried out. Soon, a more radical 'dispensing’ proposal emerged: the additional removal of infinitesimals, resulting in a purely “finitary” approach to physics. In this talk, we discuss Suppes' Dispensing program, its historical development, and recent results by the author completing the radical version of Suppes' Dispensing program.