Exploration versus Exploitation in Space, Mind, and Society

T. Hills, P. Todd, D. Lazer, A. Redish, I. Couzin & the Cognitive Search Research Group (M. Bateson, R. Cools, R. Dukas, L. Giraldeau, M. Macy, S. Page, R. Shiffrin, D. Stephens, J. Wolfe)
Trends in Cognitive Sciences
December 3, 2014


Search is a ubiquitous property of life. Although diverse domains have worked on search problems largely in isolation, recent trends across disciplines indicate that the formal properties of these problems share similar structures and, often, similar solutions. Moreover, internal search (e.g., memory search) shows similar characteristics to external search (e.g., spatial foraging), including shared neural mechanisms consistent with a common evolutionary origin across species. Search problems and their solutions also scale from individuals to societies, underlying and constraining problem solving, memory, information search, and scientific and cultural innovation. In summary, search represents a core feature of cognition, with a vast influence on its evolution and processes across contexts and requiring input from multiple domains to understand its implications and scope.

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