FormalCog: Formal Semantics and Analysis of Cognitive Architectures

The aim of this project is to develop a formal basis for analysis of a cognitive modeling architecture and its sound implementation as a proof-of-concept.

Computational cognitive modeling explores human cognition by building models that are executable by computers. Such computational models can serve as process-based theories that support classic behavioral studies to better understand human cognition.

Currently, computational cognitive modeling architectures as well as the implementations of cognitive models are typically ad-hoc constructs. They lack a formalization from the computer science point of view. This impedes analysis of the underlying languages and the programmed models. It makes it hard to compare different implementation variants of the languages. It makes it hard to verify properties of the models. These issues call for a formal semantics of cognitive modeling languages together with proper analysis techniques.

The main objective of this project is to connect the psychological methods from computational cognitive modeling with results from computer science to eliminate ad-hoc cognitive modeling. We will develop a formal operational semantics for a popular cognitive modeling language and build an analysis framework upon it. 

In short, the possibility of analyzing models on a sound semantical basis will enable the formally founded validation of cognitive models. Last but not least, our endeavor will foster the interplay between Computational Psychology and Computer Science.


Gall, Daniel; Frühwirth, Thom
A Decidable Confluence Test for Cognitive Models in ACT-R
In Stefania Costantini, Enrico Franconi, William Van Woensel, Roman Kontchakov, Fariba Sadri, and Dumitru Roman, editor, Proceedings of RuleML+RR 2017 Volume 10364 of Lecture Notes in Computer Science
Publisher: Springer,
July 2017
Gall, Daniel; Frühwirth, Thom
Translation of Cognitive Models from ACT-R to Constraint Handling Rules
10th International Web Rule Symposium (RuleML 2016), New York, USA, July 2016
July 2016
Gall, Daniel; Frühwirth, Thom
A Formal Semantics for the Cognitive Architecture ACT-R
Revised Selected Papers of the 24th International Symposium on Logic-Based Program Synthesis and Transformation (LOPSTR 2014) Volume 8981
Publisher: Springer LNCS,
September 2015
Gall, Daniel; Frühwirth, Thom
A Refined Operational Semantics for ACT-R
ACM 17th International Symposium on Principles and Practice of Declarative Programming (PPDP 2015), Siena, Italy
July 2015
Gall, Daniel; Frühwirth, Thom
An Adaptable Implementation of ACT-R with Refraction in Constraint Handling Rules
13th International Conference on Cognitive Modeling (ICCM), Groningen
April 2015
Gall, Daniel; Frühwirth, Thom
Exchanging Conflict Resolution in an Adaptable Implementation of ACT-R
Selected Papers of the 30th International Conference on Logic Programming (ICLP 2014) Volume 14(4-5) , page 525-538.
Publisher: Cambridge University Press,
July 2014