Welcome to the 31st Annual Conference of the Cognitive Science Society! It is a great pleasure to welcome you to the Netherlands. After Edinburgh and Stresa, this is the third time that the main meeting is organized in Europe. Cognitive science is a growing field of research within the Netherlands. The Dutch Science Foundation (NWO) has just completed a successful Cognition program, and is just starting a new Brain and Cognition program. For the first time in several years the conference has no specific theme, which we sincerely hope you haven’t noticed up to now. This, however, left us completely unconstrained to invite three excellent plenary speakers who each approach cognition from a different angle. Nicola Clayton studies cognition from the perspective of animals, and draws parallels with children’s development. Josh Tenenbaum’s Bayesian approach has taken the Conference by storm in the past few years, and Randy O’Reilly has developed neural networks in both the direction of biologically plausibility and higher-level cognition. The three invited speakers are complemented by the winner of the 2009 Rumelhart Prize, Susan Carey with outstanding work in cognitive development, and 2008 Heineken Prize winner Stanislas Dehaene, whose research spans so many areas of cognition that it is impossible to summarize in one sentence.
The main thrust of the conference consists of the submissions from its participants. This year we received a record number of 946 submissions, 703 of which were standard 6-page papers. We accepted 232 (33%) of the papers for oral presentation and 277 (39%) as posters. To accommodate the presentations, along with 20 symposia and 16 publication-based talks, we have increased the number parallel sessions to eight. Instead of extending the program to early morning and late evening, we have chosen to eliminate the lunch break. Fortunately, you will still be able to get lunch during any of the three sessions in the middle of the day: you just have to accept that on a conference of this scope you cannot attend everything. On the first day of the conference we offer an attractive and extensive tutorial and workshop program. This program has grown substantially over the last couple of years, and now makes a good reason to think of CogSci as a true four-day event.
Every year the conference chairs try to contribute something to the conference. Last year the scheduling of the sessions was taken over by AI, but this year we are going to take it a step further: the students of the University of Groningen have made a recommender system that will tell you exactly what sessions you should attend based on your interests.
Many people contributed to the success of this conference as members of the organizing committee and program committee. We specifically want to thank Kevin Gluck and Deborah Gruber. The continuity they bring to organizing this conference makes it possible for the meeting to keep growing, and for the program chairs to hold on to their sanity. Thanks also to 867 reviewers, James Stewart for his prompt help to keep the reviewing website running. And, finally, thanks to all the sponsors who helped make CogSci09 possible.