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Invariance

 

Explanations > Perception > Gestalt Theory > Invariance

Description | Example | Discussion | So what?

 

Description

We can recognize items as being the same thing, even when they visually appear to be different. Things can be rotated, stretched, squeezed or otherwise distorted and yet they are still recognized.

We are particularly good at recognizing people, even when they stretch their faces in different expressions or are half-hidden or partially turned away.

Example

The three objects below may well be recognized as the same box with a hole in it, even though the visual shapes are different.

 

 

 

Discussion

The world is three-dimensional, yet our vision is a weak interpretation of this and optical illusions easily fool us. Yet we have to cope and have developed surprisingly effective skills. It would make life confusing if we only recognized things if they were held up before us in a particular way. This ability is essential for identifying and classifying the many orientations and distortions of the many things in our lives.

This is a human ability that computers do not easily emulate, yet with such as advanced facial recognition software it is amazing how well this is now done. Computers do it by spotting key items like eyes and nose and measuring invariable or predictable things like distance and basic shape.

As an extension of this, we can say 'this is like that'. We know that the two items are similar, but also that they are not the same item. We can hence describe things by their similarities and differences. Hence we may describe a person as 'Like Jane, only with red hair'.

So what?

Ensure that when you show things to others that they do recognize them from all angles and in all forms.

See also

Common Fate

 

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