Professor Emeritus
Committee for Philosophy and the Sciences
Department of Philosophy
University of Maryland
College Park, MD 20742

301 405-5689

Cherniak's research falls in theory of knowledge and in neuroanatomy. The underlying linkage between the two areas concerns models of the agent: Some of the work focusses on more realistic, bounded-resource theories of rationality; from this epistemology stems a research program focussed on optimal-wiring models of brain structure.

PHIL_485  Philosophy of Neuroscience  

PHIL 670  Epistemology  (Satisfies graduate student core requirement)

The course examines interrelations between naturalized theories of knowledge and cognitive science, with focus on the distinctive character of the issues and methods of epistemology, and on questions about the relevance to them of the computational, psychological, and neural reality of the epistemic agent.  Topics include: Descartes' traditional position, and Quine's holistic neo-pragmatism; the "web of belief"; Quinean naturalism and its inheritors--epistemology as just one more element of total science; and meta-philosophy: what is the relation between philosophy and the special sciences? -- A Kantian vs. Quinean perspective.


Selected Publications

Philosophy, etc.

"Minimal Rationality," Mind, 90 (1981) 161-183. Mind_81

"Feasible Inferences," Philosophy of Science, 48 (1981) 248-268. PhilSci_81

"Rationality and the Structure of Human Memory," Synthese, 57 (1983) 163-186. Synth_83

"Computational Complexity and the Universal Acceptance of Logic," Journal of Philosophy, 81 (1984) 739-758; reprinted in Naturalizing Epistemology, H. Kornblith, ed. (MIT, 1994). JP_84

"Limits for Knowledge," Philosophical Studies, 49 (1986) 1-18. PhilStd_86

Minimal Rationality (Bradford Books / M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, MA: 1986). Paperback, 1990; 2nd printing, 1992; 3rd printing, 2008. Japanese transl (Keiso Shobo, 2009).

"Rationality," invited article in A Companion to the Philosophy of Mind, S. Guttenplan, ed. (Blackwell, 1994).

"Rational Beliefs," invited article in Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, E. Craig, ed. (Routledge, 1998).

"Racionalidade," invited article in Enciclopedia de Termos Logico-Filosoficos, J. Branquinho and P. Murcho, eds. (Biblioteca Nacional, 1999).

"Rational Agency," invited article in MIT Encyclopedia of the Cognitive Sciences, R. Wilson and F. Keil, eds. (MIT Press, 1999).

"Philosophy and Computational Neuroanatomy," invited, Philosophical Studies, 73 (1994) 89-107. PhilStd_94

"Innateness and Brain-Wiring Optimization: Non-Genomic Nativism," invited, in A. Zilhao, ed., Evolution, Rationality and Cognition (Routledge, 2005) 103-112. Zilhao_05

"Neural Circuitry Optimization," invited article in J. Kaas, ed., Evolution of Nervous Systems (Academic Press, 2006) 269-272, vol 1, History of Ideas, Basic Concepts and Developmental Mechanisms. Reprinted in J. Kaas, ed., Evolutionary Neuroscience, (Elsevier, 2009). EvoNS_06

"Brain Wiring Optimization and Non-Genomic Nativism," invited, in M. Piattelli-Palmarini, et al, eds. Of Minds & Language (Oxford, 2009). SanSeb_06

"Neuroanatomy and Cosmology," invited, in J. Bickle, ed., Oxford Handbook of Philosophy & Neuroscience (Oxford, 2009). OUP_09

"Minimal Rationality and Optimal Brain Wiring," invited, International Congress of Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science (Beijing, Aug. 2007). CLMPS_09

"Neural Wiring Optimization," invited, in M. Hofman and D. Falk, eds., Evolution of the Primate Brain: From Neuron to Behavior (Elsevier, 2012). EvoPrimBrn_12

Neuroscience, etc.

"Prototypicality and Deductive Reasoning," Journal of Verbal Learning and Verbal Behavior, 23 (1984) 625-642. JVLVB_84

"Undebuggability and Cognitive Science," Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, 31 (1988) 402-412. CACM_88

"The Bounded Brain: Toward Quantitative Neuroanatomy," Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, 2 (1990) 58-68. JCN_90

"Local Optimization of Neuron Arbors," UMIACS Tech Report 90-90 (July 1990); Biological Cybernetics, 66 (1992) 503-510. BioCyber_92

"Component Placement Optimization in the Brain," UMIACS Tech Report 91-98 (June 1991); Journal of Neuroscience, 14 (1994) 2418-2427. JNeuro_94

"Network Optimization in the Brain: From C. elegans to Cerebral Cortex" [I: 9/1991] NIMH Grant Application, UMIACS Tech Report CS-TR-4524. NIMH_91

"Neural Component Placement," invited, Trends in Neurosciences, 18 (1995) 522-527. TINS_95

"Large-Scale Optimization of Neuron Arbors," with Mark Changizi and Du Won Kang, University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies Tech Report 96-78 (November 1996); Physical Review E, 59 (1999) 6001-6009. PRE_99

"Modeling the Large-Scale Geometry of Human Coronary Arteries," with M. Changizi, Can. J. Physiol. Pharmacol., 78 (2000) 603-611.

"Network Optimization in the Brain: Cerebral Cortex Layout" [II: 2/2000] NIMH Grant Application, UMIACS Tech Report CS-TR-4525. NIMH_2000

"Optimal-Wiring Models of Neuroanatomy," invited, with Z. Mokhtarzada and U. Nodelman, in G. Ascoli, ed., Computational Neuroanatomy: Principles and Methods (Humana, 2002). Ascoli_02

"Global Optimization of Cerebral Cortex Layout," with Z. Mokhtarzada, R. Rodriguez-Esteban, and B. Changizi, (2003). University of Maryland Institute for Advanced Computer Studies UMIACS-TR-2003-102. CS_TR_4534
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 101 (2004) 1081-1086. PNAS_04
( Extended Version: )
( Supplementary Website: )

"Information Processing Limits on Generating Neuroanatomy: Global Optimization of Rat Olfactory Cortex and Amygdala," with Raul Rodriguez-Esteban, invited. CS-TR-4861 CS_TR_4861 Journal of Biological Physics, 36 (2010) 45-52. JBP_10

"Body Maps on the Human Genome," with Raul Rodriguez-Esteban. UMIACS-TR-2011-06 UMIACS_11 . Molecular Cytogenetics 2013, 6:61. MolCyto_13


"The Riddle of the Universe and Its Solution" (philosophical fiction), in The Mind's I, D. Hofstadter & D. Dennett, eds. (Basic Books, 1981); reprinted (in German) in Ist Gott Ein Taoist, S. Lem, ed. (Suhrkamp, 1988). Hofst_81

"The Wager" (philosophical fiction), AI Magazine, 7 (1986) 120-124. AI_86

"Huysmans' Tortoise" (philosophical fiction) (1987, 2000). Tort_87

MindSet. CogSci_Courseware [ PCOMP, THERMO, & MSHRDLU ]

Indoor Micro-Booomerangs. ( Booom )