The Psychophysics Psyber Lab




Linton Miller's Abstracts

Evaluating Complex Systems using the Theory of Signal Detectability and Information Theory

5 September 1996
Department of Mathematical and Computing Sciences Research Seminar


Evaluating the performance of a computer system is an important part of its development. Evaluation provides an objective way of assessing the system, making comparisons with other systems, and making comparisons with theoretical performance. In this seminar, I will examine current methods of evaluation and their limitations, and present a new approach developed by Brian Scurfield (Psychology Department) which addresses these limitations. The approach models the computer system as a detection system, and then uses a new measure of detectability, D, for evaluation. D is derived from information theory and the Theory of Signal Detectability (TSD). I will give an example by applying this new method to a pattern-recognition neural network.


  • Abramson, N. (1963) Information theory and coding. McGraw-Hill, New York.
  • Egan, J. P. (1975) Signal Detection Theory and ROC Analysis. Academic Press, New York.
  • Green, D. M. & Swets, J. A. (1966) Signal Detection Theory and Psychophysics. Wiley, New York. Reprinted by Krieger, Huntingdon, NY, 1974.
  • Scurfield, B. K. (1995) Discrimination among events by neural networks. Ph. D. thesis, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.
  • Scurfield, B. K. (1996). Multiple-event forced-choice tasks in the theory of signal detectability. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 40 (3) 253-269.
  • Scurfield, B. K. (1998). Generalization of the theory of signal detectability to m-dimensional n-event forced-choice tasks. Journal of Mathematical Psychology, 42 (1) 5-31.
  • Shannon, C. (1949) The mathematical theory of communication. In Shannon, C. & Weaver, W., The mathematical theory of communication, pp. 3-99. The University of Illinois Press, Urbana.

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