The interactive nature of computing: Refuting the strong church–turing thesis [Book Review]

Minds and Machines 18 (1):17-38 (2008)
Abstract
The classical view of computing positions computation as a closed-box transformation of inputs (rational numbers or finite strings) to outputs. According to the interactive view of computing, computation is an ongoing interactive process rather than a function-based transformation of an input to an output. Specifically, communication with the outside world happens during the computation, not before or after it. This approach radically changes our understanding of what is computation and how it is modeled. The acceptance of interaction as a new paradigm is hindered by the Strong Church–Turing Thesis (SCT), the widespread belief that Turing Machines (TMs) capture all computation, so models of computation more expressive than TMs are impossible. In this paper, we show that SCT reinterprets the original Church–Turing Thesis (CTT) in a way that Turing never intended; its commonly assumed equivalence to the original is a myth. We identify and analyze the historical reasons for the widespread belief in SCT. Only by accepting that it is false can we begin to adopt interaction as an alternative paradigm of computation. We present Persistent Turing Machines (PTMs), that extend TMs to capture sequential interaction. PTMs allow us to formulate the Sequential Interaction Thesis, going beyond the expressiveness of TMs and of the CTT. The paradigm shift to interaction provides an alternative understanding of the nature of computing that better reflects the services provided by today’s computing technology.
Keywords Church---Turing Thesis   Computation expressiveness   Interactive computation   Paradigm shift   Persistent Turing Machines   Sequential Interaction Thesis   Strong Church---Turing Thesis   Turing Machines
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