The Perceptual Organization of Point Constellations

Abstract

In this paper we present observers with point patterns based on 30 major star constellations and ask them to connect the points to show the structure they perceive. The resulting empirical structures had a high inter-rater reliability and a high degree of overlap with constellation structures recorded in star atlases, suggesting that the perception of structure in point patterns is largely invariant across individuals. Further, we demonstrate that the empirical structures correspond closely with the structures developed in the field of relational geometry. We discuss the results of the experiment in light of previous findings and suggest a number of potential approaches to formally modeling human performance on clustering tasks.


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