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Institute for Neural Computation

California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology


(858) 534-6640


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Gary Cottrell

Facial recognition;Neural networks;Human cognition

Neural networks are mathematical computer algorithms that mimic how the brain thinks by making connections between nerve cells or neurons. Such connectionist models of cognitive processes often aim at creating machines even more skilled than humans at recognizing patterns, for example, to block fraudulent credit card transactions. Professor Cottrell's application of artificial intelligence (AI) aims in the opposite direction: neural nets that mimic humans so precisely that they make the same mistakes. The goal is to understand human psychology. Cottrell's work on facial expression recognition is shedding new light on affective computing, or the study of human emotion using computers. Cottrell is also an expert in computational philosophy, or the use of computer simulations to answer philosophical questions. In the long term, his work will have implications for education and the treatment of social and psychological disorders, including autism, in which the ability to recognize and respond to emotions in others is impaired. Cottrell can also speak about how culture influences facial expression and recognition, and about artificial intelligence in general.

Garrison Cottrell joined the UCSD faculty in 1987. He is one of three faculty members running UCSD's Artificial Intelligence Laboratory. He is Director of UCSD's Interdisciplinary PhD program in Cognitive Science, and co-principal investigator in the Perceptual Expertise Network. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester in 1985.