Concrete Digital Computation: What Does it Take for a Physical System to Compute? [Book Review]

Abstract
This paper deals with the question: what are the key requirements for a physical system to perform digital computation? Time and again cognitive scientists are quick to employ the notion of computation simpliciter when asserting basically that cognitive activities are computational. They employ this notion as if there was or is a consensus on just what it takes for a physical system to perform computation, and in particular digital computation. Some cognitive scientists in referring to digital computation simply adhere to Turing’s notion of computability . Classical computability theory studies what functions on the natural numbers are computable and what mathematical problems are undecidable. Whilst a mathematical formalism of computability may perform a methodological function of evaluating computational theories of certain cognitive capacities, concrete computation in physical systems seems to be required for explaining cognition as an embodied phenomenon . There are many non-equivalent accounts of digital computation in physical systems. I examine only a handful of those in this paper: (1) Turing’s account ; (2) The triviality “account”; (3) Reconstructing Smith’s account of participatory computation ; (4) The Algorithm Execution account . My goal in this paper is twofold. First, it is to identify and clarify some of the underlying key requirements mandated by these accounts. I argue that these differing requirements justify a demand that one commits to a particular account when employing the notion of computation in regard to physical systems. Second, it is to argue that despite the informative role that mathematical formalisms of computability may play in cognitive science, they do not specify the relationship between abstract and concrete computation.
Keywords Algorithm execution   Cognition   Computability   Concrete digital computation   Representation   Situated computers   Turing machine
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 11,772
External links
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

View all 31 references

Citations of this work BETA
Similar books and articles
Paolo Cotogno (2003). Hypercomputation and the Physical Church-Turing Thesis. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 54 (2):181-223.
Analytics

Monthly downloads

Added to index

2011-10-18

Total downloads

22 ( #81,214 of 1,099,557 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

10 ( #23,141 of 1,099,557 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature


Discussion
Start a new thread
Order:
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.