James N. MacGregor

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Two experiments on performance on the traveling salesman problem (TSP) are reported. The TSP consists of finding the shortest path through a set of points, returning to the origin. It appears to be an intransigent mathematical problem, and heuristics have been developed to find approximate solutions. The first experiment used 10-point, the second, 20-point(More)
The 9-dot problem is widely regarded as a difficult insight problem. The authors present a detailed information-processing model to explain its difficulty, based on maximization and progress-monitoring heuristics with lookahead. In Experiments 1 and 2, the model predicted performance for the 9-dot and related problems. Experiment 3 supported an extension of(More)
A computational model is proposed of how humans solve the traveling salesperson problem (TSP). Tests of the model are reported, using human performance measures from a variety of 10-, 20-, 40-, and 60-node problems, a single 48-node problem, and a single 100-node problem. The model provided a range of solutions that approximated the range of human solutions(More)
The nine-dot problem is a classic in the field of human problem solving. Cognitive accounts of the problem's difficulty have been criticized on the grounds that the experimental methods on which they rely for support involve a qualitative change to the task requirements of the problem. The three experiments reported here utilize visual and visual-procedural(More)
The travelling salesperson problem (TSP) provides a realistic and practical example of a visuo-spatial problem-solving task. In previous research, we have found that the quality of solutions produced by human participants for small TSPs compares well with solutions from a range of computer algorithms. We have proposed that the ability of participants to(More)
This article reports 2 experiments that investigated performance on a novel insight problem, the 8-coin problem. The authors hypothesized that participants would make certain initial moves (strategic moves) that seemed to make progress according to the problem instructions but that nonetheless would guarantee failure to solve the problem. Experiment 1(More)
Four experiments investigated transformation problems with insight characteristics. In Experiment 1, performance on a version of the 6-coin problem that had a concrete and visualizable solution followed a hill-climbing heuristic. Experiment 2 demonstrated that the difficulty of a version of the problem that potentially required insight for solution stems(More)
The article provides a review of recent research on human performance on the traveling salesman problem (TSP) and related combinatorial optimization problems. We discuss what combinatorial optimization problems are, why they are important, and why they may be of interest to cognitive scientists. We next describe the main characteristics of human performance(More)
Untrained adults appear to have access to cognitive processes that allow them to perform well in the Euclidean version of the traveling salesperson problem (E-TSP). They do so despite the famous computational intractability of the problem, which stems from its combinatorial complexity. A current hypothesis is the humans' good performance is based on(More)