David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Minds and Machines 11 (2):219-237 (2001)
In the technical literature of computer science, the concept of an effective procedure is closely associated with the notion of an instruction that precisely specifies an action. Turing machine instructions are held up as providing paragons of instructions that "precisely describe" or "well define" the actions they prescribe. Numerical algorithms and computer programs are judged effective just insofar as they are thought to be translatable into Turing machine programs. Nontechnical procedures (e.g., recipes, methods) are summarily dismissed as ineffective on the grounds that their instructions lack the requisite precision. But despite the pivotal role played by the notion of a precisely specified instruction in classifying procedures as effective and ineffective, little attention has been paid to the manner in which instructions "precisely specify" the actions they prescribe. It is the purpose of this paper to remedy this defect. The results are startling. The reputed exemplary precision of Turing machine instructions turns out to be a myth. Indeed, the most precise specifications of action are provided not by the procedures of theoretical computer science and mathematics (algorithms) but rather by the nontechnical procedures of everyday life. I close with a discussion of some of the rumifications of these conclusions for understanding and designing concrete computers and their programming languages
|Keywords||Algorithm Computer Program Science Turing Machines Turing, A|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
Stefan Gruner (2011). Problems for a Philosophy of Software Engineering. Minds and Machines 21 (2):275-299.
Similar books and articles
Justin Leiber (2006). Turing's Golden: How Well Turing's Work Stands Today. Philosophical Psychology 19 (1):13-46.
Jeremy Seligman (2002). The Scope of Turing's Analysis of Effective Procedures. Minds and Machines 12 (2):203-220.
B. Jack Copeland (ed.) (2005). Alan Turing's Automatic Computing Engine: The Master Codebreaker's Struggle to Build the Modern Computer. OUP Oxford.
B. Jack Copeland (2002). Accelerating Turing Machines. Minds and Machines 12 (2):281-300.
Carol E. Cleland (1995). Effective Procedures and Computable Functions. Minds and Machines 5 (1):9-23.
Jack Copeland (1996). On Alan Turing's Anticipation of Connectionism. Synthese 108 (3):361-377.
Gualtiero Piccinini (2003). Alan Turing and the Mathematical Objection. Minds and Machines 13 (1):23-48.
Carol E. Cleland (1993). Is the Church-Turing Thesis True? Minds and Machines 3 (3):283-312.
Leon Horsten (1995). The Church-Turing Thesis and Effective Mundane Procedures. Minds and Machines 5 (1):1-8.
Carol E. Cleland (2002). On Effective Procedures. Minds and Machines 12 (2):159-179.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads35 ( #49,212 of 1,100,913 )
Recent downloads (6 months)13 ( #13,522 of 1,100,913 )
How can I increase my downloads?