This is the Homepage of MacFAUST (= Macintosh Finite Automata Simulation Tool), a program that is designed to create and edit discrete dynamic systems. The formal background is based on the theory of finite state automata. MacFAUST also controls experiments investigating human learning in interacting with discrete dynamic systems. Several theoretically well-founded methods of knowledge assessment are implemented, and all data (including a person´s exploratory behavior) are logged.
MacFAUST has proven to be a very useful tool for psychological research on learning in dynamic task environments in several experiments. MacFAUST is an easy-to-use, completely menu-driven program that runs on Apple Macintosh computers. Copies of the program may be requested from Joachim Funke (make sure to have MacOS as your operating system).
Why should one use finite state automata in problem solving research?MacFAUST has been designed as a tool for researchers interested in how people learn and later use their knowledge in interacting with complex dynamic systems. There is a large diversity of systems currently used in this research domain. The problem with most of these systems is that they do not have a homogeneous theoretical background to make them comparable or to allow researchers to manipulate precisely defined properties of the task.
Also, many researchers use diagnostic procedures that are idiosyncratic to the task and have no or no clear connection to the "classical" inventory of cognitive psychological methods of knowledge assessment. There are a number of other problems that have been outlined elsewhere (Buchner, & Funke, 1993; Funke, & Buchner, 1992) and will not be repeated here. The situation is different with the discrete dynamic systems used here. These systems have the following (plus some more) advantages:
For more details you are again refered to the papers mentioned above. Having a homogeneous formal background for describing many different dynamic systems makes it possible to create classes of formally well-defined systems that can easily be related to each other. MacFAUST is a tool to do exactly that. In other words, MacFAUST is an all-purpose discrete system generator. New discrete systems may be created, and existing ones may be modified according to the researcher´s needs. This manual describes how to do that.
In addition, MacFAUST can control experiments exploring the systems that have been created by the program. This manual describes how to do that also. Subjects´ data are recorded and stored in a text file so they can be conveniently used for data analysis. However, the manual cannot describe all the details of what possibilities the researcher has in analyzing the data produced by MacFAUST. For more details the reader is therefore again refered to existing literature describing experiments with MacFAUST (Buchner, & Funke, 1991, 1993; Buchner, Funke, Schmitt, & Nikelowski, 1990).
Published experiments which used MacFAUST
Buchner, A., Funke, J., Nikelowski, B. & Schmitt, L. (1990). External support systems for a dynamic task environment: Results from two experiments on memory and evaluation aids. Berichte aus dem Psychologischen Institut der Universität Bonn, 16 (5).
The MacFAUST software and the accompanying MacFAUST manual were first published in 1991 as a report for the EC-funded research project called KAUDYTE:
Buchner, A., Schmitt, L., Funke, J. & Nikelowski, B. (1991). MacFAUST: Program for constructing finite automata as instruments in problem solving research. Manual. Berichte aus dem Psychologischen Institut der Universität Bonn, 17 (3).
The MacFAUST manual does also exist as a PDF-File (MacFAUST_Manual.pdf, ca. 293 KB) and can be seen via Acrobat Reader.
The MacFAUST software is not longer supported. It was programmed in Pascal for Macintosh in the early 1990s. In the meantime, so many changes in the Operating Systems occured that a continuous update without software developers is not possible. Dr. Andreas Fischer (now at fbb Nuremberg, Germany - see http://www.f-bb.de/institut/mitarbeiter/mitarbeiter-detail/perinfo/fischer-3.html) has developed a tool called FAUST that delivers a similar functionality.
Theoretical backgroundThe idea behind the use of finite state automata in problem solving research can be found here:
Buchner, A., & Funke, J. (1993). Finite state automata: Dynamic task environments in problem solving research. Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, 46A, 83–118. http://doi.org/10.1080/14640749308401068 Funke, J. (2001). Dynamic systems as tools for analysing human judgement. Thinking & Reasoning, 7(1), 69–89. http://doi.org/10.1080/13546780042000046 Funke, J. (2003). Problemlösendes Denken. Stuttgart: Kohlhammer.
Neubert, J. C., Kretzschmar, A., Wüstenberg, S., & Greiff, S. (2014). Extending the assessment of complex problem solving to finite state automata: Embracing heterogeneity. European Journal of Psychological Assessment, 1, 1–14. http://doi.org/10.1027/1015-5759/a000224
Further workFor the national PISA program 2000, a finite automaton called "Raumfahrt" (space shuttle) has been developed and empirically tested:
Klieme, E., Funke, J., Leutner, D., Reimann, P., & Wirth, J. (2001). Problemlösen als fächerübergreifende Kompetenz. Konzeption und erste Resultate aus einer Schulleistungsstudie. Zeitschrift für Pädagogik, 47, 179-200.
Leutner, D., Funke, J., Klieme, E., & Wirth, J. (2005). Problemlösefähigkeit als fächerübergreifende Kompetenz. In E. Klieme, D. Leutner & J. Wirth (Eds.), Problemlösekompetenz von Schülerinnen und Schülern (pp. 11-19). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.
Wirth, J., & Funke, J. (2005). Dynamisches Problemlösen: Entwicklung und Evaluation eines neuen Messverfahrens zum Steuern komplexer Systeme. In E. Klieme, D. Leutner & J. Wirth (Eds.), Problemlösekompetenz von Schülerinnen und Schülern (pp. 55-72). Wiesbaden: VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften.
Wirth, J., & Klieme, E. (2003). Computer-based assessment of problem solving competence. Assessment in Education: Principles, Policy, & Practice, 10, 329-345.
Other FSA linksThe link http://odur.let.rug.nl/~vannoord/papers/fsa/fsa.html leads to a paper "FSA Utilities: A Toolbox to Manipulate Finite-state Automata" by Gertjan van Noord (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen)