Information Processing as an Account of Concrete Digital Computation

Philosophy and Technology 26 (1):31-60 (2013)
It is common in cognitive science to equate computation (and in particular digital computation) with information processing. Yet, it is hard to find a comprehensive explicit account of concrete digital computation in information processing terms. An information processing account seems like a natural candidate to explain digital computation. But when ‘information’ comes under scrutiny, this account becomes a less obvious candidate. Four interpretations of information are examined here as the basis for an information processing account of digital computation, namely Shannon information, algorithmic information, factual information and instructional information. I argue that any plausible account of concrete computation has to be capable of explaining at least the three key algorithmic notions of input, output and procedures. Whist algorithmic information fares better than Shannon information, the most plausible candidate for an information processing account is instructional information.
Keywords Concrete digital computation  Turing machines  Algorithmic information  Shannon information  Factual information  Instructional information  Cognitive science  Algorithm  Program
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DOI 10.1007/s13347-011-0061-4
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John D. Collier (1990). Intrinsic Information. In Philip P. Hanson (ed.), Information, Language and Cognition. University of British Columbia Press 1--390.
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