Samuel Nordli

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Sam Nordli

Contact Information
E-Mail: san10
Residence: Northampton
Year of Entry: F10
Division: Free
Concentration: The Evolutionary Economics of Learning
Areas of Interest: Philosophy, (evolutionary) ecology, (evolutionary) psychology, education, music
Languages I Know: Treble clef, alto clef
Languages I Am Learning: English, food
Faculty I Collaborate(d) With in Division I: n/a
Faculty I Collaborate(d) With in Division II: Neil Stillings, Laura Sizer
Faculty I Collaborate(d) With in Division III: Laura Sizer, Sarah Partan
School: Cognitive Science

Samuel Anders Nordli (Sam) was a transfer student from Tufts University (F03-F05). He is originally from Portland, Maine.

If you happen to read his Div III (and feel like it), he would love to hear or discuss ideas in response. A digital copy of the thesis is accessible here:



Division III

Title: The Evolutionary Economics of Learning: The Lawful Structure of Habit Formation and the Computational Capacity for Recursion in Behavior

Description of Division III Project:

I propose an evolutionary interpretation of habit formation that suggests that habitual behaviors (i.e., automatic, unconscious, unintentional) form in response to temporary ecological stability; more specifically, I argue that habits exploit the predictability that is associated with that stability. I suggest that the brain's habit-formation mechanism evolved for this reason, as habits reduce the cost of repeatedly RE-producing stereotypical behavior. Based on this interpretation, I propose that several laws of behavior can be inferred. Additionally, I propose that an analysis of these laws reveals an underlying neural structure that supports the capacity for recursion in human behavior.


Get in touch if you would like to play music sometime!

Recorded Improv

Below are some recordings I made with my mandolin, violin, and viola. For each recording, I improvised a (somewhat) rhythmically stable foundation track, then listened to it played back through headphones while at the same time recording and improvising a new line to layer on top of the previous track(s) (repeating this process ad lib, combining anywhere from three to nine tracks in a given piece). Some of it doesn't sound terrible.

(14 is probably the most accessible, 11 the least; 6 is my favorite, 7 is okay too)


This track is a recording from the first "rock concert" I played (using my electric violin). The whole thing was improvised - I'm particularly pleased with how the solo turned out (at 4:19 - I was using a tube screamer and wah pedal, so the sound is less violin and more awesome).


I'm learning how to use the 6.3 MP Canon Digital Rebel that I bought from my friend. Not quite up to manual yet...

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