On effective procedures

Minds and Machines 12 (2):159-179 (2002)
Since the mid-twentieth century, the concept of the Turing machine has dominated thought about effective procedures. This paper presents an alternative to Turing's analysis; it unifies, refines, and extends my earlier work on this topic. I show that Turing machines cannot live up to their billing as paragons of effective procedure; at best, they may be said to provide us with mere procedure schemas. I argue that the concept of an effective procedure crucially depends upon distinguishing procedures as definite courses of action(- types) from the particular courses of action(-tokens) that actually instantiate them and the causal processes and/or interpretations that ultimately make them effective. On my analysis, effectiveness is not just a matter of logical form; `content' matters. The analysis I provide has the advantage of applying to ordinary, everyday procedures such as recipes and methods, as well as the more refined procedures of mathematics and computer science. It also has the virtue of making better sense of the physical possibilities for hypercomputation than the received view and its extensions, e.g. Turing's o-machines, accelerating machines.
Keywords Turing machine   causal process   effective procedure   hypercomputation   precisely described instruction   procedure schema   quotidian procedure
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DOI 10.1023/A:1015606528623
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Pavel Materna (2009). Concepts and Recipes. Acta Analytica 24 (1):69-90.

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