• Robert L. Goldstone
  • Sam Day
  • Ji Y. Son
Part of the On Thinking book series (ONTHINKING)


The process of comparison plays a critical role in problem solving, ­judgment, decision making, categorization, and cognition, broadly construed. In turn, determination of similarities and differences plays a critical role for comparison. In this chapter, we describe important classes of formal models of similarity and comparison: geometric, featural, alignment-based, and transformational. We also consider the question of whether similarity is too flexible to provide a stable ground for cognition, and conversely, whether it is insufficiently flexible to account for the sophistication of cognition. Both similarity assessments and comparison are argued to provide valuable general-purpose cognitive strategies.


Feature Match Kolmogorov Complexity Similarity Judgment Contrast Model Conjunctive Feature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Author Notes

This research was funded by National Science Foundation REESE grant DRL-0910218. Correspondence concerning this chapter should be addressed to or Robert Goldstone, Psychological and Brain Sciences Department, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana 47405. Further information about the laboratory can be found at


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Psychological and Brain SciencesIndiana UniversityBloomingtonUSA

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