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Ron Sun is a cognitive scientist and currently Professor of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and formerly the James C. Dowell Professor of Engineering and Professor of Computer Science at University of Missouri. He received his Ph.D in 1992 from Brandeis University.

His research interest centers around the study of cognition, especially in the areas of cognitive architectures, human reasoning and learning, cognitive social simulation, and hybrid connectionist-symbolic models. Over the years, his work has been wide-ranging, and spans cognitive science, psychology, philosophy, computer science, artificial intelligence, and social sciences.

For his paper on integrating rule-based and connectionist models for accounting for human everyday reasoning, he received the 1991 David Marr Award from Cognitive Science Society. For his work on human skill learning, he received the 2008 Hebb Award from the International Neural Network Society.

Throughout the past two decades, he has been conducting research in the fields of psychology of learning and hybrid neural network (in particular, applying these models to research on human skill acquisition). Specifically, he has worked on the integrated effect of "top-down" and "bottom-up" learning in human skill acquisition,[1] in a variety of task domains, for example, navigation tasks,[2] reasoning tasks, and implicit learning tasks.[3] This inclusion of bottom-up learning processes has been revolutionary in cognitive psychology, because most previous models of learning had focused exclusively on top-down learning (whereas human learning clearly happens in both directions). This research has culminated with the development of an integrated cognitive architecture that can be used to provide a qualitative and quantitative explanation of empirical psychological learning data. The model, CLARION, is a hybrid neural network that can be used to simulate problem solving and social interactions as well. More importantly, CLARION was the first psychological model that proposed an explanation for the “bottom-up learning” mechanisms present in human skill acquisition: His numerous papers on the subject have brought attention to this neglected area in cognitive psychology.

He is the founding co-editor-in-chief of the journal Cognitive Systems Research, and also serves on the editorial boards of many other journals. He was the general chair and the program chair of CogSci 2006, and the program chair of IJCNN 2007. He is a member of the Governing Boards of Cognitive Science Society and of International Neural Networks Society.

Another strand of his work is what he called cognitive social sciences --- the re-unification of the cognitive and social sciences through grounding the social sciences in the cognitive sciences.[4]

In recent years, he attempted the difficult task of laying the theoretical and meta-theoretical foundation for computational cognitive modeling (or computational psychology), through the philosophical work of constructive empiricism[5], which is opposed to scientific realism.


  • R. Sun, (ed.) The Cambridge Handbook of Computational Psychology. Cambridge University Press, New York. 2008.
  • R. Sun, Cognition and Multi-Agent Interaction: From Cognitive Modeling to Social Simulation. Cambridge University Press, New York. 2006.
  • R. Sun, Duality of the Mind. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ. 2002.
  • R. Sun and L. Giles, (eds.) Sequence Learning: Paradigms, Algorithms, and Applications. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg. 2000.
  • S. Wermter and R. Sun, (eds.) Hybrid Neural Systems. Springer-Verlag, Heidelberg. 2000.
  • R. Sun and F. Alexandre, (eds.) Connectionist-Symbolic Integration. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ. 1997.
  • R. Sun, Integrating Rules and Connectionism for Robust Commonsense Reasoning. John Wiley and Sons, New York. 1994.
  • R. Sun & L. Bookman, (eds.), Computational Architectures Integrating Neural and Symbolic Processes. Kluwer Academic Publishers, Needham, MA. 1994.


  1. R. Sun, Duality of the Mind. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwah, NJ. 2002.
  2. R. Sun, E. Merrill, and T. Peterson, From implicit skills to explicit knowledge: A bottom-up model of skill learning. Cognitive Science, Vol.25, No.2, pp.203-244. 2001.
  3. R. Sun, P. Slusarz, and C. Terry, The interaction of the explicit and the implicit in skill learning: A dual-process approach . Psychological Review, Vol.112, No.1, pp.159-192. 2005.
  4. R. Sun, Cognition and Multi-Agent Interaction: From Cognitive Modeling to Social Simulation. Cambridge University Press, New York. 2006.
  5. R. Sun, Theoretical status of computational cognitive modeling . Cognitive Systems Research, Vol.10, No.2, pp.124-140. 2009.

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