Foundations of Conditioning and Learning

Foundations of Conditioning and Learning

Foundations of Conditioning and Learning

Foundations of Conditioning and Learning

Excerpt

As the pages of any standard textbook will testify, the amount of material in the field of learning has grown to unmanageable proportions in the past several years and, when such books attempt to describe even a major segment of the subject, they must resort to a summary style that sacrifices depth to achieve some breadth of coverage. The particulars of investigative procedure and theoretical development essential to a true understanding of the subject matter are largely lost in such a presentation. My aim in preparing this volume has been to provide a partial remedy for this state of affairs by presenting a collection of somewhat extensive treatments of a limited number of basic topics.

This book began as a conventional set of readings but gradually took on a somewhat different character. It soon became clear that no suitable papers existed in certain of the areas I wanted to cover. As a solution to this problem I wrote some new chapters myself and dragooned colleagues and former students into writing others with the result that about half of the chapters in the book have some previously unpublished content and, in turn, about half of these are entirely new.

Certain characteristics of this book developed from the fact that our journals presently enjoy the mixed blessing of receiving more publishable articles than their pages will hold. As a consequence, our editors have been forced to insist that papers be written in a style that makes them too brief for the uninitiated to comprehend. The assumption that such writing is not optimal for a book of readings intended largely for undergraduate and graduate students has found several expressions in the content of this volume: I have frequently chosen an older article where the style of communication is somewhat relaxed in preference to a newer and briefer treatment. In two or three cases I decided to reprint a dissertation rather than its published version when I considered the latter to have been too seriously damaged by the editor's red pencil. In other cases I have selected an article from an out-of-the-way journal which allows the author more space for his presentation than our more familiar standard SYSTEMations.

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