As my time here at Quest starts to slowly wind down to a close I’ve been working pretty hard on pulling together everything I’ve done academically. The class I’m currently in, simply called “Cognition”, represents the culmination of much of the work I’ve done in the past two years. In this class we draw from multiple disciplines such as philosophy, artificial intelligence, and of course psychology to piece together how humans function. In doing so I’ve already connected so many of the themes in the class to the work I’ve done in previous classes such as comparative cognition and cognitive development. Of course, there is always the opportunity to learn so much more. Previous to this class beginning one of my friends bought a speech to text software program and I became fascinated with how it worked. How could this program accurately copy down continuous speech? So I thought about some ways it might do so according to my previous knowledge. The first possibility is basically brute force. As a person says each word the program could search through all 60,000 English words looking for a match, however this is impossible to do quickly and ridiculously inefficient. The program needs some sort of searching algorithm to limit its options for each word. Luckily, all languages have rules and structure in the form of syntax. Sentences will always be laid out with a subject and a predicate. If the program knows these rules it might be able to tell what type of word will most likely come next and search through a smaller set of words. For example in the sentence: The boy _____ to his house, the computer would only search verbs that match the voice to fill in that spot. After looking into these programs more closely, it turns out they do use a variety of searching algorithms to correctly write out the sentences. Most of these programs use applied statistics on a smaller scale to be as efficient as possible. Though I don’t know a ton about this yet, one of our big projects is to write an essay on a topic of our choosing. Our group is looking at these statistical methods in speech to text programs and comparing that to human comprehension. I love classes like these where I can feel comfortable in the material but always push myself to learn more.