New KMi Modelling Language Launched at Summer School

"Hank", the new cognitive modelling language developed in KMi by Paul Mulholland and Stuart Watt, proved itself at this year’s D309 Cognitive Psychology residential school.Four groups of students took part in Hank’s first live trial, learning the language from scratch and developing a small psychological model in it over the course of two days. All the students were very positive about the new language. They found it easy to use, easy to understand, and easy to connect to psychological theories, which is its intended role within the course.
Hank has been designed to be simple to learn and use by non-programmers.
It uses a combination of grid views, rather like spreadsheets, and flow charts, along with state-of-the-art software visualisation technology, to make it much easier to grasp than Prolog, which is currently used in D309.
Among the comments students made about Hank were:

  • "Hank could be used in real life. As a gardener I could use it to keep a database on trees: level of shade and light, growth rate. I could write a rule to find the best conditions."
  • "You can easily see what some else’s Hank program is for"
  • "You can learn psychology by going through step by step and thinking ‘what do we humans do?’"
  • "Basically, Hank is fun. You can fiddle with it and see what it does."

For more information, see Paul Mulholland’s Hank page at
"Hank" is named in honour of the late Dr. Hank Kahney, Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology at The Open University, who had a vision of template-based programming that would make computing more accessible to psychology students.


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