, Volume 29, Issue 4, pp 309-333

Markovian processes with identifiable states: General considerations and application to all-or-none learning

  • James G. GreenoAffiliated withIndiana University
  • , Theodore E. SteinerAffiliated withIndiana University

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It often happens that a theory specifies some variables or states which cannot be identified completely in an experiment. When this happens, there are important questions as to whether the experiment is relevant to certain assumptions of the theory. Some of these questions are taken up in the present article, where a method is developed for describing the implications of a theory for an experiment. The method consists of constructing a second theory with all of its states identifiable in the outcome-space of the experiment. The method can be applied (i.e., an equivalent identifiable theory exists) whenever a theory specifies a probability function on the sample-space of possible outcomes of the experiment. An interesting relationship between lumpability of states and recurrent events plays an important role in the development of the identifiable theory. An identifiable theory of an experiment can be used to investigate relationships among different theories of the experiment. As an example, an identifiable theory of all-or-none learning is developed, and it is shown that a large class of all-or-none theories are equivalent for experiments in which a task is learned to a strict criterion.