Traditionally, many writers, following Kleene (1952), thought of the Church-Turingthesis as unprovable by its nature but having various strong arguments in its favor, including Turing’s analysis of human computation. More recently, the beauty, power, and obvious fundamental importance of this analysis, what Turing (1936) calls “argument I,” has led some writers to give an almost exclusive emphasis on this argument as the unique justification for the Church-Turingthesis. In this chapter I advocate an alternative justification, (...) essentially presupposed by Turing himself in what he calls “argument II.” The idea is that computation is a special form of mathematical deduction. Assuming the steps of the deduction can be stated in a first order language, the Church-Turingthesis follows as a special case of Gödel’s completeness theorem (first order algorithm theorem). I propose this idea as an alternative foundation for the Church-Turingthesis, both for human and machine computation. Clearly the relevant assumptions are justified for computations presently known. Other issues, such as the significance of Gödel’s 1931 Theorem IX for the Entscheidungsproblem, are discussed along the way. (shrink)
We describe a possible physical device that computes a function that cannot be computed by a Turing machine. The device is physical in the sense that it is compatible with General Relativity. We discuss some objections, focusing on those which deny that the device is either a computer or computes a function that is not Turing computable. Finally, we argue that the existence of the device does not refute the Church–Turing thesis, but nevertheless may be a counterexample to Gandy's (...)thesis. (shrink)
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. (shrink)
We describe a possible physical device that computes a function that cannot be computed by a Turing machine. The device is physical in the sense that it is compatible with General Relativity. We discuss some objections, focusing on those which deny that the device is either a computer or computes a function that is not Turing computable. Finally, we argue that the existence of the device does not refute the Church–Turing thesis, but nevertheless may be a counterexample to Gandy’s (...)thesis. (shrink)
The Church-Turingthesis makes a bold claim about the theoretical limits to computation. It is based upon independent analyses of the general notion of an effective procedure proposed by Alan Turing and Alonzo Church in the 1930''s. As originally construed, the thesis applied only to the number theoretic functions; it amounted to the claim that there were no number theoretic functions which couldn''t be computed by a Turing machine but could be computed by means of some other (...) kind of effective procedure. Since that time, however, other interpretations of the thesis have appeared in the literature. In this paper I identify three domains of application which have been claimed for the thesis: (1) the number theoretic functions; (2) all functions; (3) mental and/or physical phenomena. Subsequently, I provide an analysis of our intuitive concept of a procedure which, unlike Turing''s, is based upon ordinary, everyday procedures such as recipes, directions and methods; I call them mundane procedures. I argue that mundane procedures can be said to be effective in the same sense in which Turing machine procedures can be said to be effective. I also argue that mundane procedures differ from Turing machine procedures in a fundamental way, viz., the former, but not the latter, generate causal processes. I apply my analysis to all three of the above mentioned interpretations of the Church-Turingthesis, arguing that the thesis is (i) clearly false under interpretation (3), (ii) false in at least some possible worlds (perhaps even in the actual world) under interpretation (2), and (iii) very much open to question under interpretation (1). (shrink)
This volume began as a remembrance of Alonzo Church while he was still with us and is now finally complete. It contains papers by many well-known scholars, most of whom have been directly influenced by Church's own work. Often the emphasis is on foundational issues in logic, mathematics, computation, and philosophy - as was the case with Church's contributions, now universally recognized as having been of profound fundamental significance in those areas. The volume will be of interest to logicians, computer (...) scientists, philosophers, and linguists. The contributions concern classical first-order logic, higher-order logic, non-classical theories of implication, set theories with universal sets, the logical and semantical paradoxes, the lambda-calculus, especially as it is used in computation, philosophical issues about meaning and ontology in the abstract sciences and in natural language, and much else. The material will be accessible to specialists in these areas and to advanced graduate students in the respective fields. (shrink)
Church's Thesis asserts that the only numeric functions that can be calculated by effective means are the recursive ones, which are the same, extensionally, as the Turing-computable numeric functions. The Abstract State Machine Theorem states that every classical algorithm is behaviorally equivalent to an abstract state machine. This theorem presupposes three natural postulates about algorithmic computation. Here, we show that augmenting those postulates with an additional requirement regarding basic operations gives a natural axiomatization of computability and a proof of (...) Church's Thesis, as Gödel and others suggested may be possible. In a similar way, but with a different set of basic operations, one can prove Turing's Thesis, characterizing the effective string functions, and--in particular--the effectively-computable functions on string representations of numbers. (shrink)
Church's thesis asserts that a number-theoretic function is intuitively computable if and only if it is recursive. A related thesis asserts that Turing's work yields a conceptual analysis of the intuitive notion of numerical computability. I endorse Church's thesis, but I argue against the related thesis. I argue that purported conceptual analyses based upon Turing's work involve a subtle but persistent circularity. Turing machines manipulate syntactic entities. To specify which number-theoretic function a Turing machine computes, we (...) must correlate these syntactic entities with numbers. I argue that, in providing this correlation, we must demand that the correlation itself be computable. Otherwise, the Turing machine will compute uncomputable functions. But if we presuppose the intuitive notion of a computable relation between syntactic entities and numbers, then our analysis of computability is circular. (shrink)
We critically discuss Cleland''s analysis of effective procedures as mundane effective procedures. She argues that Turing machines cannot carry out mundane procedures, since Turing machines are abstract entities and therefore cannot generate the causal processes that are generated by mundane procedures. We argue that if Turing machines cannot enter the physical world, then it is hard to see how Cleland''s mundane procedures can enter the world of numbers. Hence her arguments against versions of the Church-Turingthesis for number (...) theoretic functions miss the mark. (shrink)
Recent work on hypercomputation has raised new objections against the Church–Turing Thesis. In this paper, I focus on the challenge posed by a particular kind of hypercomputer, namely, SAD computers. I first consider deterministic and probabilistic barriers to the physical possibility of SAD computation. These suggest several ways to defend a Physical version of the Church–Turing Thesis. I then argue against Hogarth's analogy between non-Turing computability and non-Euclidean geometry, showing that it is a non-sequitur. I conclude that the (...) Effective version of the Church–Turing Thesis is unaffected by SAD computation. (shrink)
Kripke (1982, Wittgenstein on rules and private language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press) presents a rule-following paradox in terms of what we meant by our past use of “plus”, but the same paradox can be applied to any other term in natural language. Many responses to the paradox concentrate on fixing determinate meaning for “plus”, or for a small class of other natural language terms. This raises a problem: how can these particular responses be generalised to the whole of natural language? (...) In this paper, I propose a solution. I argue that if natural language is computable in a sense defined below, and the Church–Turing thesis is accepted, then this auxiliary problem can be solved. (shrink)
A version of the Church-TuringThesis states that every effectively realizable physical system can be defined by Turing Machines (‘Thesis P’); in this formulation the Thesis appears an empirical, more than a logico-mathematical, proposition. We review the main approaches to computation beyond Turing definability (‘hypercomputation’): supertask, non-well-founded, analog, quantum, and retrocausal computation. These models depend on infinite computation, explicitly or implicitly, and appear physically implausible; moreover, even if infinite computation were realizable, the Halting Problem would not (...) be affected. Therefore, Thesis P is not essentially different from the standard Church-TuringThesis. 1 Introduction 2 Computability and incomputability 3 The physical interpretation of the Church-TuringThesis 4 Supertasks and infinite computation 5 Computation on non-well-founded domains 6 Analog computation 7 Quantum computation 8 Retrocausal computation 9 Conclusions. (shrink)
This article defends a modest version of the Physical Church-Turingthesis (CT). Following an established recent trend, I distinguish between what I call Mathematical CT—the thesis supported by the original arguments for CT—and Physical CT. I then distinguish between bold formulations of Physical CT, according to which any physical process—anything doable by a physical system—is computable by a Turing machine, and modest formulations, according to which any function that is computable by a physical system is computable by (...) a Turing machine. I argue that Bold Physical CT is not relevant to the epistemological concerns that motivate CT and hence not suitable as a physical analog of Mathematical CT. The correct physical analog of Mathematical CT is Modest Physical CT. I propose to explicate the notion of physical computability in terms of a usability constraint, according to which for a process to count as relevant to Physical CT, it must be usable by a finite observer to obtain the desired values of a function. Finally, I suggest that proposed counterexamples to Physical CT are still far from falsifying it because they have not been shown to satisfy the usability constraint. (shrink)
There are various equivalent formulations of the Church-Turingthesis. A common one is that every effective computation can be carried out by a Turing machine. The Church-Turingthesis is often misunderstood, particularly in recent writing in the philosophy of mind.
The Church–Turing Thesis (CTT) is often employed in arguments for computationalism. I scrutinize the most prominent of such arguments in light of recent work on CTT and argue that they are unsound. Although CTT does nothing to support computationalism, it is not irrelevant to it. By eliminating misunderstandings about the relationship between CTT and computationalism, we deepen our appreciation of computationalism as an empirical hypothesis.
One of us has previously argued that the Church-TuringThesis (CTT), contra Elliot Mendelson, is not provable, and is — light of the mind’s capacity for effortless hypercomputation — moreover false (e.g., ). But a new, more serious challenge has appeared on the scene: an attempt by Smith  to prove CTT. His case is a clever “squeezing argument” that makes crucial use of Kolmogorov-Uspenskii (KU) machines. The plan for the present paper is as follows. After covering some (...) necessary preliminaries regarding the nature of CTT, and taking note of the fact that this thesis is “intrinsically cognitive” (§2), we: sketch out, for context, an open-minded position on CTT and related matters (§3); explain the formal structure of squeezing arguments (§4); after a review of KU-machines, formalize Smith’s case (§5); give our objections to certain assumptions in Smith’s argument (§6); support these objections with some evidence from general but limited-agent problem solving (§7); and explain why Smith’s argument is inconclusive (§8). We end with some brief, concluding remarks, some of which point toward near-future work that will build on the present paper (§9). (shrink)
Olszewski claims that the Church-Turingthesis can be used in an argument against platonism in philosophy of mathematics. The key step of his argument employs an example of a supposedly effectively computable but not Turing-computable function. I argue that the process he describes is not an effective computation, and that the argument relies on the illegitimate conflation of effective computability with there being a way to find out . ‘Ah, but,’ you say, ‘what’s the use of its being (...) right twice a day, if I can’t tell when the time comes?’ Why, suppose the clock points to eight o’clock, don’t you see that the clock is right at eight o’clock? Consequently, when eight o’clock comes round your clock is right. Lewis Carroll. (shrink)
La Teoría de la Computación es un campo especialmente rico para la indagación filosófica. EI debate sobre el mecanicismo y la discusión en torno a los fundamentos de la matemática son tópicos que estan directamente asociados a la Teoria de la Computación desde su misma creación como disciplina independiente. La Tesis de Turing-Church constituye uno de los resultados mas característicos en este campo estando, además, lleno de consecuencias filosóficas. En este ensayo se ofrece una guía de referencia útil a aquellos (...) que desean prestar alguna atención a estos asuntos y carecen de la base técnica o histórica que se precisa. En primer lugar se ofrece un resurnen de los principales problemas relacionados con la Tesis de Turing-Church para ofrecer a continuación información sobre sus aspectos más controvertidos. Se proponen algunos problemas no resueltos y se analiza su relevancia filosófica.Computer Science is a field specially rich for philosophical inquiry. Mechanism and the discussion around foundations of mathematics are topics directly asociated to Computer Science for its very constitution as an independent discipline. Church-TuringThesis is one of the most characteristic results in this field and is plenty of philosophical consequences. In this article I offer a referenee guide useful for those who are willing to pay some attention to these matters and ignore the technical and historical basis needed for this task. I resume the main topics related to Church-TuringThesis and give some informationabout the most controversial aspects of this subject. Some open questions are settled for further investigation paying special attention to their philosophical importance. (shrink)
This paper considers games in normal form played by Turing Machines. The machines are fed as input all the relevent information and then are required to play the game. Some ‘impossibility’ results are derived for this set-up. In particular, it is shown that no Turing Machine exists which will always play the correct strategy given its opponent's choice. Such a result also generalizes to the case in which attention is restricted to economically optimizing machines only. The paper also develops a (...) model of knowledge. This allows the main results of the paper to be interpreted as stemming out of the impossibility of always deciding whether a player is rational or not in some appropriate sense. (shrink)
We sketch the historical and conceptual context of Turing's analysis of algorithmic or mechanical computation. We then discuss two responses to that analysis, by Gödel and by Gandy, both of which raise, though in very different ways. The possibility of computation procedures that cannot be reduced to the basic procedures into which Turing decomposed computation. Along the way, we touch on some of Cleland's views.
In this paper I argue that whether or not a computer can be built that passes the Turing test is a central question in the philosophy of mind. Then I show that the possibility of building such a computer depends on open questions in the philosophy of computer science: the physical Church-Turingthesis and the extended Church-Turingthesis. I use the link between the issues identified in philosophy of mind and philosophy of computer science to respond (...) to a prominent argument against the possibility of building a machine that passes the Turing test. Finally, I respond to objections against the proposed link between questions in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of computer science. (shrink)
This paper investigates the view that digital hypercomputing is a good reason for rejection or re-interpretation of the Church-Turingthesis. After suggestion that such re-interpretation is historically problematic and often involves attack on a straw man (the ‘maximality thesis’), it discusses proposals for digital hypercomputing with Zeno-machines , i.e. computing machines that compute an infinite number of computing steps in finite time, thus performing supertasks. It argues that effective computing with Zeno-machines falls into a dilemma: either they (...) are specified such that they do not have output states, or they are specified such that they do have output states, but involve contradiction. Repairs though non-effective methods or special rules for semi-decidable problems are sought, but not found. The paper concludes that hypercomputing supertasks are impossible in the actual world and thus no reason for rejection of the Church-Turingthesis in its traditional interpretation. (shrink)
There is an intensive discussion nowadays about the meaning of effective computability, with implications to the status and provability of the Church–Turing Thesis (CTT). I begin by reviewing what has become the dominant account of the way Turing and Church viewed, in 1936, effective computability. According to this account, to which I refer as the Gandy–Sieg account, Turing and Church aimed to characterize the functions that can be computed by a human computer. In addition, Turing provided a highly convincing (...) argument for CTT by analyzing the processes carried out by a human computer. I then contend that if the Gandy–Sieg account is correct, then the notion of effective computability has changed after 1936. Today computer scientists view effective computability in terms of finite machine computation. My contention is supported by the current formulations of CTT, which always refer to machine computation, and by the current argumentation for CTT, which is different from the main arguments advanced by Turing and Church. I finally turn to discuss Robin Gandy's characterization of machine computation. I suggest that there is an ambiguity regarding the types of machines Gandy was postulating. I offer three interpretations, which differ in their scope and limitations, and conclude that none provides the basis for claiming that Gandy characterized finite machine computation. (shrink)
The ancient dualism of a sensible and an intelligible world important in Neoplatonic and medieval philosophy, down to Descartes and Kant, would seem to be supplanted today by a scientific view of mind-in-nature. Here, we revive the old dualism in a modified form, and describe mind as a symbolic language, founded in linguistic recursive computation according to the Church-Turingthesis, constituting a world L that serves the human organism as a map of the Universe U. This methodological distinction (...) of L vs. U helps to understand how and why structures of phenomena come to be opposed to their nature in human thought, a central topic in Heideggerian philosophy. U is uncountable according to Georg Cantor’s set theory but Language L, based on the recursive function system, is countable, and anchored in a Gray Area within U of observable phenomena, typically symbols (or tokens), prelinguistic structures, genetic-historical records of their origins. Symbols, the phenomena most familiar to mathematicians, are capable of being addressed in L-processing. The Gray Area is the human Environment E, where we can live comfortably, that we manipulate to create our niche within hostile U, with L offering overall competence of the species to survive. The human being is seen in the light of his or her linguistic recursively computational (finite) mind. Nature U, by contrast, is the unfathomable abyss of being, infinite labyrinth of darkness, impenetrable and hostile to man. The U-man, biological organism, is a stranger in L-man, the mind-controlled rational person, as expounded by Saint Paul. Noumena can now be seen to reside in L, and are not fully supported by phenomena. Kant’s noumenal cause is the mental L-image of only partly phenomenal causation. Mathematics occurs naturally in pre-linguistic phenomena, including natural laws, which give rise to pure mathematical structures in the world of L. Mathematical foundation within philosophy is reversed to where natural mathematics in the Gray Area of pre-linguistic phenomena can be seen to be a prerequisite for intellectual discourse. Lesser, nonverbal versions of L based on images are shared with animals. (shrink)
The Church-TuringThesis (CTT) is often paraphrased as ``every computable function is computable by means of a Turing machine.'' The author has constructed a family of equational theories that are not Turing-decidable, that is, given one of the theories, no Turing machine can recognize whether an arbitrary equation is in the theory or not. But the theory is called pseudorecursive because it has the additional property that when attention is limited to equations with a bounded number of variables, (...) one obtains, for each number of variables, a fragment of the theory that is indeed Turing-decidable. In a 1982 conversation, Alfred Tarski announced that he believed the theory to be decidable, despite this contradicting CTT. The article gives the background for this proclamation, considers alternate interpretations, and sets the stage for further research. (shrink)
What are the limits of physical computation? In his ‘Church’s Thesis and Principles for Mechanisms’, Turing’s student Robin Gandy proved that any machine satisfying four idealised physical ‘principles’ is equivalent to some Turing machine. Gandy’s four principles in effect define a class of computing machines (‘Gandy machines’). Our question is: What is the relationship of this class to the class of all (ideal) physical computing machines? Gandy himself suggests that the relationship is identity. We do not share this view. (...) We will point to interesting examples of (ideal) physical machines that fall outside the class of Gandy machines and compute functions that are not Turing-machine computable. (shrink)
Alan Turing anticipated many areas of current research incomputer and cognitive science. This article outlines his contributionsto Artificial Intelligence, connectionism, hypercomputation, andArtificial Life, and also describes Turing's pioneering role in thedevelopment of electronic stored-program digital computers. It locatesthe origins of Artificial Intelligence in postwar Britain. It examinesthe intellectual connections between the work of Turing and ofWittgenstein in respect of their views on cognition, on machineintelligence, and on the relation between provability and truth. Wecriticise widespread and influential misunderstandings of theChurch–Turing (...) class='Hi'>thesis and of the halting theorem. We also explore theidea of hypercomputation, outlining a number of notional machines thatcompute the uncomputable. (shrink)
This paper concerns Alan Turing’s ideas about machines, mathematical methods of proof, and intelligence. By the late 1930s, Kurt Gödel and other logicians, including Turing himself, had shown that no finite set of rules could be used to generate all true mathematical statements. Yet according to Turing, there was no upper bound to the number of mathematical truths provable by intelligent human beings, for they could invent new rules and methods of proof. So, the output of a human mathematician, for (...) Turing, was not a computable sequence (i.e., one that could be generated by a Turing machine). Since computers only contained a finite number of instructions (or programs), one might argue, they could not reproduce human intelligence. Turing called this the “mathematical objection” to his view that machines can think. Logico-mathematical reasons, stemming from his own work, helped to convince Turing that it should be possible to reproduce human intelligence, and eventually compete with it, by developing the appropriate kind of digital computer. He felt it should be possible to program a computer so that it could learn or discover new rules, overcoming the limitations imposed by the incompleteness and undecidability results in the same way that human mathematicians presumably do. (shrink)
Accelerating Turing machines are Turing machines of a sort able to perform tasks that are commonly regarded as impossible for Turing machines. For example, they can determine whether or not the decimal representation of contains n consecutive 7s, for any n; solve the Turing-machine halting problem; and decide the predicate calculus. Are accelerating Turing machines, then, logically impossible devices? I argue that they are not. There are implications concerning the nature of effective procedures and the theoretical limits of computability. Contrary (...) to a recent paper by Bringsjord, Bello and Ferrucci, however, the concept of an accelerating Turing machine cannot be used to shove up Searle's Chinese room argument. (shrink)
This paper defends the traditional conception of Church's Thesis (CT), as unprovable but true, against a group of arguments by Gandy, Mendelson, Shapiro and Sieg. The arguments here considered urge that CT is provable or proved. This paper argues, first, that contra-Mendelson, CT does connect a mathematically precise concept (Turing computability) with an intuitive notion (effective calculability). Second, the various ‘proofs’ of (all or half of) CT fail to undermine the traditional conception of CT as unprovable. Either they do (...) not conform to the sense of proof imbedded in the standard conception, or they prove something other than CT. (shrink)
For over a decade, the hypercomputation movement has produced computational models that in theory solve the algorithmically unsolvable, but they are not physically realizable according to currently accepted physical theories. While opponents to the hypercomputation movement provide arguments against the physical realizability of specific models in order to demonstrate this, these arguments lack the generality to be a satisfactory justification against the construction of any information-processing machine that computes beyond the universal Turing machine. To this end, I present a more (...) mathematically concrete challenge to hypercomputability, and will show that one is immediately led into physical impossibilities, thereby demonstrating the infeasibility of hypercomputers more generally. This gives impetus to propose and justify a more plausible starting point for an extension to the classical paradigm that is physically possible, at least in principle. Instead of attempting to rely on infinities such as idealized limits of infinite time or numerical precision, or some other physically unattainable source, one should focus on extending the classical paradigm to better encapsulate modern computational problems that are not well-expressed/modeled by the closed-system paradigm of the Turing machine. I present the first steps toward this goal by considering contemporary computational problems dealing with intractability and issues surrounding cyber-physical systems, and argue that a reasonable extension to the classical paradigm should focus on these issues in order to be practically viable. (shrink)
Does Nature permit the implementation of behaviours that cannot be simulated computationally? We consider the meaning of physical computation in some detail, and present arguments in favour of physical hypercomputation: for example, modern scientific method does not allow the specification of any experiment capable of refuting hypercomputation. We consider the implications of relativistic algorithms capable of solving the (Turing) Halting Problem. We also reject as a fallacy the argument that hypercomputation has no relevance because non-computable values are indistinguishable from sufficiently (...) close computable approximations. In addition to considering the nature of computability relative to any given physical theory, we can consider the relationship between versions of computability corresponding to different models of physics. Deutsch and Penrose have argued on mathematical grounds that quantum computation and Turing computation have equivalent formal power. We suggest this equivalence is invalid when considered from the physical point of view, by highlighting a quantum computational behaviour that cannot meaningfully be considered feasible in the classical universe. (shrink)
This paper develops my (BJPS 2009) criticisms of the philosophical significance of a certain sort of infinitary computational process, a hyperloop. I start by considering whether hyperloops suggest that "effectively computable" is vague (in some sense). I then consider and criticise two arguments by Hogarth, who maintains that hyperloops undermine the very idea of effective computability. I conclude that hyperloops, on their own, cannot threaten the notion of an effective procedure.
What counts as a computation and how it relates to cognitive function are important questions for scientists interested in understanding how the mind thinks. This paper argues that pragmatic aspects of explanation ultimately determine how we answer those questions by examining what is needed to make rigorous the notion of computation used in the (cognitive) sciences. It (1) outlines the connection between the Church-TuringThesis and computational theories of physical systems, (2) differentiates merely satisfying a computational function from (...) true computation, and finally (3) relates how we determine a true computation to the functional methodology in cognitive science. All of the discussion will be directed toward showing that the only way to connect formal notions of computation to empirical theory will be in virtue of the pragmatic aspects of explanation. (shrink)
Arguments to the effect that Church's thesis is intrinsically unprovable because proof cannot relate an informal, intuitive concept to a mathematically defined one are unconvincing, since other 'theses' of this kind have indeed been proved, and Church's thesis has been proved in one direction. However, though evidence for the truth of the thesis in the other direction is overwhelming, it does not yet amount to proof.
In the section ‘Further reading’, I listed a book that arrived on my desk just as I was sending IGT off to the press, namely Church’s Thesis after 70 Years edited by Adam Olszewski et al. On the basis of a quick glance, I warned that the twenty two essays in the book did seem to be of ‘variable quality’. But actually, things turn out to be a bit worse than that: the collection really isn’t very good at all! (...) After I sent my book to press, I gave a paper-by-paper review on my blog, at http://logicmatters.blogspot.com. It is probably more fun to chase up the reviews ‘in the wild’, so to speak, starting from the entry for May 14, 2007. But here they are wrapped up into a single document, only marginally tidied. Some of the points made here should help further explain and support the general line on the Thesis taken in.. (shrink)
In the very last chapter of my Introduction to Gödel Theorems, I rashly claimed that there is a sense in which we can informally prove Church’s Thesis. This sort of claim isn’t novel to me: but it certainly is still very much the minority line. So maybe it is worth rehearsing some of the arguments again. Even if I don’t substantially add to the arguments in the book, it might help to approach things in a different order, with some (...) different emphases, to make the issue as clear as possible. (shrink)
In this paper we will discuss the active part played by certain diagonal arguments in the genesis of computability theory. 1?In some cases it is enough to assume the enumerability of Y while in others the effective enumerability is a substantial demand. These enigmatical words by Kleene were our point of departure: When Church proposed this thesis, I sat down to disprove it by diagonalizing out of the class of the ??definable functions. But, quickly realizing that the diagonalization cannot (...) be done effectively, I became overnight a supporter of the thesis. (1981, p. 59) The title of our paper alludes to this very work, a task on which Kleene claims to have set out after hearing such a remarkable statement from Church, who was his teacher at the time. There are quite a few points made in this extract that may be surprising. First, it talks about a proof by diagonalization in order to test?in fact to try to falsify?a hypothesis that is not strictly formal. Second, it states that such a proof or diagonal construction fails. Third, it seems to use the failure as a support for the thesis. Finally, the episode we have just described took place at a time, autumn 1933, in which many of the results that characterize Computability Theory had not yet materialized. The aim of this paper is to show that Church and Kleene discovered a way to block a very particular instance of a diagonal construction: one that is closely related to the content of Church's thesis. We will start by analysing the logical structure of a diagonal construction. Then we will introduce the historical context in order to analyse the reasons that might have led Kleene to think that the failure of this very specific diagonal proof could support the thesis. This is a joint paper. We have both attempted to add a small piece to an amazing historical jigsaw puzzle at a juncture we feel to be appropiate. In the paper by Manzano 1997 the aforementioned words by Kleene were quoted, and since then several logicians, Enrique Alonso first and foremost, have questioned her on this issue. Here we both submit our reply. (1999, pp. 249--273). (shrink)
La thèse de Church-Turing stipule que toute fonction calculable est calculable par une machine de Turing. En distinguant, à la suite de nombreux auteurs, une forme algorithmique de la thèse de Church-Turing portant sur les fonctions calculables par un algorithme d’une forme empirique de cette même thèse, portant sur les fonctions calculables par une machine, il devient possible de poser une nouvelle question : les limites empiriques du calcul sont-elles identiques aux limites des algorithmes ? Ou existe-t-il un (...) moyen empirique d’effectuer un calcul qu’aucun algorithme ne permet d’effectuer ? Je montrerai ici la pertinence philosophique de cette question. Elle interroge la capacité de processus symboliques comme les calculs à simuler certains processus empiriques. Elle permet également d’étudier le statut épistémologique des calculs réalisés par des machines. S’il existait une fonction calculable par une machine sans être calculable par un algorithme, il existerait un problème mathématique qui serait soluble par un dispositif empirique, sans être soluble par aucune méthode mathématique a priori. (shrink)