Benjamin Kuipers. 2001. The skeleton in the cognitive map: a computational hypothesis.
In J. Peponis, J. Wineman and S. Bafna (Eds.), Space Syntax: Proceedings of the Third International Symposium, Ann Arbor: A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan, pages 10.1--10.7.


Experts seem to find routes in a complex environment by finding a connection from the starting place to a subset of major paths --- the ``skeleton'' --- then moving within the skeleton to the neighborhood of the destination, making a final connection to the destination. We present a computational hypothesis to account for the skeleton as an emergent phenomenon, arising from the interaction of three factors. (1) The topological map is represented as a bipartite graph of places and paths, where a path is an extended one-dimensional description of an ordered set of places. (2) Travel through the environment allows the traveler to incrementally accumulate topological relationships, including the relation of a place to a path serving as a dividing boundary separating two regions. (3) A bounding path is often a natural subgoal during way-finding search, meaning that paths rich in boundary relations are likely to appear in routes, which means they are likely to acquire more boundary relations. This positive-feedback loop leads to an oligarchy of paths rich in boundary relations. We propose computational and empirical tests for this hypothesis.


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