About this topic
Summary Digital computation is computation using digital representations; analog computation is computation using analog representations. While this distinction is largely understood in practice, a precise account of the difference has been of some philosophical interest. Not all differences between the two kinds of representation are essential, and philosophical accounts of which differences are essential comprise most of this literature.
Key works The first serious discussion of analog versus digital representation is found in Goodman 1968. Further discussion is found in Lewis 1971 and Haugeland 1981. Katz 2008 defends Haugeland's view, and a more recent defense and extension of Lewis's ideas is presented in Maley 2011.
Introductions The best introduction to the analog/digital distinction is that presented in Goodman 1968, and Lewis's refutation in Lewis 1971.
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  1. added 2020-04-18
    Competing Ontologies and Verbal Disputes.Jakub Mácha - 2017 - Prolegomena : Časopis Za Filozofiju 16 (1):7-21.
    The notion of ontology originates in philosophy. It has been recently employed in computer science and information technology for representing knowledge. In the first part of the paper, I argue that there is a significant overlap in these notions of ontology. Utilizing this overlap, I show in the second part that ontologies can be used for developing a new powerful heuristic method for resolving verbal disputes in philosophy. Verbal disputes can be defined in terms of ontologies: A dispute over two (...)
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  2. added 2019-06-06
    Brains as Analog-Model Computers.Oron Shagrir - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (3):271-279.
    Computational neuroscientists not only employ computer models and simulations in studying brain functions. They also view the modeled nervous system itself as computing. What does it mean to say that the brain computes? And what is the utility of the ‘brain-as-computer’ assumption in studying brain functions? In previous work, I have argued that a structural conception of computation is not adequate to address these questions. Here I outline an alternative conception of computation, which I call the analog-model. The term ‘analog-model’ (...)
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  3. added 2019-06-06
    Computation in Cognitive Science: It is Not All About Turing-Equivalent Computation.Kenneth Aizawa - 2010 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (3):227-236.
    It is sometimes suggested that the history of computation in cognitive science is one in which the formal apparatus of Turing-equivalent computation, or effective computability, was exported from mathematical logic to ever wider areas of cognitive science and its environs. This paper, however, indicates some respects in which this suggestion is inaccurate. Computability theory has not been focused exclusively on Turing-equivalent computation. Many essential features of Turing-equivalent computation are not captured in definitions of computation as symbol manipulation. Turing-equivalent computation did (...)
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  4. added 2019-06-06
    Some Recent Developments on Shannon's General Purpose Analog Computer.Daniel Graça - 2004 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 50 (4-5):473-495.
    This paper revisits one of the first models of analog computation, the General Purpose Analog Computer. In particular, we restrict our attention to the improved model presented in [11] and we show that it can be further refined. With this we prove the following: the previous model can be simplified; it admits extensions having close connections with the class of smooth continuous time dynamical systems. As a consequence, we conclude that some of these extensions achieve Turing universality. Finally, it is (...)
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  5. added 2019-05-06
    Individual Homogenization in Large-Scale Systems: On the Politics of Computer and Social Architectures.Jens Bürger & Andres Laguna-Tapia - 2020 - Palgrave Communications 6 (47).
    One determining characteristic of contemporary sociopolitical systems is their power over increasingly large and diverse populations. This raises questions about power relations between heterogeneous individuals and increasingly dominant and homogenizing system objectives. This article crosses epistemic boundaries by integrating computer engineering and a historicalphilosophical approach making the general organization of individuals within large-scale systems and corresponding individual homogenization intelligible. From a versatile archeological-genealogical perspective, an analysis of computer and social architectures is conducted that reinterprets Foucault’s disciplines and political anatomy to (...)
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  6. added 2019-03-12
    Perception is Analog: The Argument From Weber's Law.Jacob Beck - 2019 - Journal of Philosophy 116 (6):319-349.
    In the 1980s, a number of philosophers argued that perception is analog. In the ensuing years, these arguments were forcefully criticized, leaving the thesis in doubt. This paper draws on Weber’s Law, a well-entrenched finding from psychophysics, to advance a new argument that perception is analog. This new argument is an adaptation of an argument that cognitive scientists have leveraged in support of the contention that primitive numerical representations are analog. But the argument here is extended to the representation of (...)
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  7. added 2019-03-04
    Omnipresent Maxwell’s Demons Orchestrate Information Management in Living Cells.Antoine Danchin Gregory Boel, Olivier Danot, Victor de Lorenzo & Antoine Danchin - 2019 - Microbial Biotechnology 12 (2):210-242.
    The development of synthetic biology calls for accurate understanding of the critical functions that allow construction and operation of a living cell. Besides coding for ubiquitous structures, minimal genomes encode a wealth of functions that dissipate energy in an unanticipated way. Analysis of these functions shows that they are meant to manage information under conditions when discrimination of substrates in a noisy background is preferred over a simple recognition process. We show here that many of these functions, including transporters and (...)
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  8. added 2019-02-21
    Ecosophy, Philosophy of Security, New Technologies and the Digital Philosophy.Sarbu Ion - 2017 - In Proceedings of the 13th International Scientific Committee "Strategies XXI". Technologies, Military Applications, Simulations and Resources. Bucharest: "Carol I" National Defence University. pp. 437-443.
    Defining Ecosophy (ecological wisdom) like a contemporary philosophy of survival, security and a sustainable Human Development, terrestrial nature and society, the author of this article approaches the correlation between it and the digital version of security in the context of new technologies. Human survival is in connection with the protection, optimal functioning of the natural environment and the development of human society. Human evolution, physical and psychological (the issues of Anthropoecology, a medical-biological science, deals with them), depends on the natural (...)
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  9. added 2018-07-16
    Analog Mental Representation.Jacob Beck - forthcoming - WIREs Cognitive Science.
    Over the past 50 years, philosophers and psychologists have perennially argued for the existence of analog mental representations of one type or another. This study critically reviews a number of these arguments as they pertain to three different types of mental representation: perceptual representations, imagery representations, and numerosity representations. Along the way, careful consideration is given to the meaning of “analog” presupposed by these arguments for analog mental representation, and to open avenues for future research.
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  10. added 2017-02-13
    Digital Approaches.A. Pagni - 1998 - In Enrique H. Ruspini, Piero Patrone Bonissone & Witold Pedrycz (eds.), Handbook of Fuzzy Computation. Institute of Physics.
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  11. added 2017-01-25
    An Association Between Understanding Cardinality and Analog Magnitude Representations in Preschoolers.Jennifer B. Wagner & Susan C. Johnson - 2011 - Cognition 119 (1):10-22.
  12. added 2017-01-25
    The Role of Analog Models in Our Digital Age.Bela Julesz - 1983 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 6 (4):668.
  13. added 2017-01-24
    Effects of Familiarity and Sequence Length of Analog Matches in the Simultaneous Matching Task.Gail A. Bruder & Wayne Silverman - 1974 - Journal of Experimental Psychology 102 (5):875.
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  14. added 2017-01-23
    Digital Immortality: Self or 0010110?Liz Stillwaggon Swan & Joshua Howard - 2012 - International Journal of Machine Consciousness 4 (01):245-256.
  15. added 2016-12-08
    Some Recent Developments on Shannon's General Purpose Analog Computer.Daniel Silva Graça - 2004 - Mathematical Logic Quarterly 50 (45):473-485.
    This paper revisits one of the first models of analog computation, the General Purpose Analog Computer . In particular, we restrict our attention to the improved model presented in [11] and we show that it can be further refined. With this we prove the following: the previous model can be simplified; it admits extensions having close connections with the class of smooth continuous time dynamical systems. As a consequence, we conclude that some of these extensions achieve Turing universality. Finally, it (...)
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  16. added 2016-06-13
    David Wolpert on Impossibility, Incompleteness, the Liar Paradox, the Limits of Computation, a Non-Quantum Mechanical Uncertainty Principle and the Universe as Computer—the Ultimate Theorem in Turing Machine Theory.Michael Starks - manuscript
    I have read many recent discussions of the limits of computation and the universe as computer, hoping to find some comments on the amazing work of polymath physicist and decision theorist David Wolpert but have not found a single citation and so I present this very brief summary. Wolpert proved some stunning impossibility or incompleteness theorems (1992 to 2008-see arxiv.org) on the limits to inference (computation) that are so general they are independent of the device doing the computation, and even (...)
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  17. added 2016-03-09
    Objective Computation Versus Subjective Computation.Nir Fresco - 2015 - Erkenntnis 80 (5):1031-1053.
    The question ‘What is computation?’ might seem a trivial one to many, but this is far from being in consensus in philosophy of mind, cognitive science and even in physics. The lack of consensus leads to some interesting, yet contentious, claims, such as that cognition or even the universe is computational. Some have argued, though, that computation is a subjective phenomenon: whether or not a physical system is computational, and if so, which computation it performs, is entirely a matter of (...)
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  18. added 2016-03-09
    Information Processing as an Account of Concrete Digital Computation.Nir Fresco - 2013 - Philosophy and Technology 26 (1):31-60.
    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 (...)
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  19. added 2016-01-31
    What is a Digital State?Vincent C. Müller - 2013 - In Mark J. Bishop & Yasemin Erden (eds.), The Scandal of Computation - What is Computation? - AISB Convention 2013. AISB. pp. 11-16.
    There is much discussion about whether the human mind is a computer, whether the human brain could be emulated on a computer, and whether at all physical entities are computers (pancomputationalism). These discussions, and others, require criteria for what is digital. I propose that a state is digital if and only if it is a token of a type that serves a particular function - typically a representational function for the system. This proposal is made on a syntactic level, assuming (...)
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  20. added 2016-01-31
    A Dialogue Concerning Two World Systems: Info-Computational Vs. Mechanistic.Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic & Vincent C. Müller - 2011 - In Gordana Dodig-Crnkovic & Mark Burgin (eds.), Information and computation: Essays on scientific and philosophical understanding of foundations of information and computation. World Scientific. pp. 149-184.
    The dialogue develops arguments for and against a broad new world system - info-computationalist naturalism - that is supposed to overcome the traditional mechanistic view. It would make the older mechanistic view into a special case of the new general info-computationalist framework (rather like Euclidian geometry remains valid inside a broader notion of geometry). We primarily discuss what the info-computational paradigm would mean, especially its pancomputationalist component. This includes the requirements for a the new generalized notion of computing that would (...)
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  21. added 2016-01-06
    The History of Early Computer Switching.Arthur W. Burks & Alice R. Burks - 1988 - Grazer Philosophische Studien 32 (1):3-36.
    We distinguish scanning switches, which only enumerate states, from function switches which transform input states into output states. For the latter we introduce a logical network symbolism. Our history of early computer switching begins with the suggestions of Ramon Lull and Gottfried Leibniz, surveys the evolution of mechanical scanning switches and the first mechanical function switches, and then describes the first electromechanical function switches. The main themes of the present paper are that William S. Jevons built the first substantial function (...)
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  22. added 2015-11-13
    The Physical Church Thesis and Physical Computational Complexity.Itamar Pitowski - 1990 - Iyyun 39:81-99.
  23. added 2015-11-05
    Pancomputationalism: Theory or Metaphor?Vincent C. Müller - 2014 - In Ruth Hagengruber & Uwe Riss (eds.), Philosophy, computing and information science. Pickering & Chattoo. pp. 213-221.
    The theory that all processes in the universe are computational is attractive in its promise to provide an understandable theory of everything. I want to suggest here that this pancomputationalism is not sufficiently clear on which problem it is trying to solve, and how. I propose two interpretations of pancomputationalism as a theory: I) the world is a computer and II) the world can be described as a computer. The first implies a thesis of supervenience of the physical over computation (...)
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  24. added 2015-11-01
    Susan Stuart & Gordana Dodig Crnkovic : 'Computation, Information, Cognition: The Nexus and the Liminal'. [REVIEW]Vincent C. Müller - 2009 - Cybernetics and Human Knowing 16 (3-4):201-203.
    Review of: "Computation, Information, Cognition: The Nexus and the Liminal", Ed. Susan Stuart & Gordana Dodig Crnkovic, Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, September 2007, xxiv+340pp, ISBN: 9781847180902, Hardback: £39.99, $79.99 ---- Are you a computer? Is your cat a computer? A single biological cell in your stomach, perhaps? And your desk? You do not think so? Well, the authors of this book suggest that you think again. They propose a computational turn, a turn towards computational explanation and towards the explanation of (...)
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  25. added 2015-11-01
    Representation in Digital Systems.Vincent C. Müller - 2008 - In Adam Briggle, Katinka Waelbers & Brey Philip (eds.), Current Issues in Computing and Philosophy. IOS Press. pp. 116-121.
    Cognition is commonly taken to be computational manipulation of representations. These representations are assumed to be digital, but it is not usually specified what that means and what relevance it has for the theory. I propose a specification for being a digital state in a digital system, especially a digital computational system. The specification shows that identification of digital states requires functional directedness, either for someone or for the system of which it is a part. In the case or digital (...)
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  26. added 2015-10-24
    Varieties of Analog and Digital Representation.Whit Schonbein - 2014 - Minds and Machines 24 (4):415-438.
    The ‘received view’ of the analog–digital distinction holds that analog representations are continuous while digital representations are discrete. In this paper I first provide support for the received view by showing how it (1) emerges from the theory of computation, and (2) explains engineering practices. Second, I critically assess several recently offered alternatives, arguing that to the degree they are justified they demonstrate not that the received view is incorrect, but rather that distinct senses of the terms have become entrenched (...)
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  27. added 2015-10-12
    On the Possibilities of Hypercomputing Supertasks.Vincent C. Müller - 2011 - Minds and Machines 21 (1):83-96.
    This paper investigates the view that digital hypercomputing is a good reason for rejection or re-interpretation of the Church-Turing thesis. 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 (...)
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  28. added 2015-09-23
    An Analog VLSI Chip for Low-Level Computer Vision.Kenneth J. Janik, Shih-Lien Lu & Ben Lee - 1996 - Esda 1996: Expert Systems and Ai; Neural Networks 7:211.
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  29. added 2015-04-05
    The Analog-Digital Distinction and the Flow of Information.Paul Jeremiah Bohan Broderick - 2001 - Dissertation, Boston University
    The analog vs. digital distinction is frequently used in computer science, computer technology and elsewhere. However, its precise nature is more elusive than might be expected. This dissertation defines a set of problems hidden within the conventions of ordinary and technical language, and suggests solutions to them. ;Chapter 1 examines ordinary language uses of the analog-digital distinction. Chapter 2 considers its use in technical contexts. There are two main ways of making the distinction that appear in both of the opening (...)
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  30. added 2015-03-24
    Why Digital Pictures Are Not Notational Representations.John Zeimbekis - 2015 - Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism 73 (4):449-453.
  31. added 2015-03-23
    Chaotic Neurons and Analog Computation.Kazuyuki Aihara & Jun Kyung Ryeu - 2001 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 24 (5):810-811.
    Chaotic dynamics can be related to analog computation. A possibility of electronically implementing the chaos -driven contracting system in the target article is explored with an analog electronic circuit with inevitable noise from the viewpoint of analog computation with chaotic neurons.
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  32. added 2015-03-23
    The Informational Model of Language: Analog and Digital Coding in Animal and Human Communication (an Excerpt).Thomas A. Sebeok - 1967 - In Donald C. Hildum (ed.), Language and Thought: An Enduring Problem in Psychology. London: : Van Nostrand,. pp. 37--40.
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  33. added 2015-03-22
    The Processing of Information (Analog/Digital) is the Causal Factor of the Emergence of Natural Hierarchies.Eugenio Andrade - 2003 - Ludus Vitalis 11 (20):85-106.
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  34. added 2015-03-22
    The Analog Divide.Torin Monahan - 2001 - Acm Sigcas Computers and Society 31 (3):22-31.
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  35. added 2014-04-02
    The Instructional Information Processing Account of Digital Computation.Nir Fresco & Marty J. Wolf - 2014 - Synthese 191 (7):1469-1492.
    What is nontrivial digital computation? It is the processing of discrete data through discrete state transitions in accordance with finite instructional information. The motivation for our account is that many previous attempts to answer this question are inadequate, and also that this account accords with the common intuition that digital computation is a type of information processing. We use the notion of reachability in a graph to defend this characterization in memory-based systems and underscore the importance of instructional information for (...)
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  36. added 2014-03-30
    Grounding Analog Computers.Bruce J. MacLennan - unknown
    In this commentary on Harnad's "Grounding Symbols in the Analog World with Neural Nets: A Hybrid Model," the issues of symbol grounding and analog (continuous) computation are separated, it is argued that symbol graounding is as important an issue for analog cognitive models as for digital (discrete) models. The similarities and differences between continuous and discrete computation are discussed, as well as the grounding of continuous representations. A continuous analog of the Chinese Room is presented.
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  37. added 2014-03-29
    Analog Simulation.Russell Trenholme - 1994 - Philosophy of Science 61 (1):115-131.
    The distinction between analog and digital representation is reexamined; it emerges that a more fundamental distinction is that between symbolic and analog simulation. Analog simulation is analyzed in terms of a (near) isomorphism of causal structures between a simulating and a simulated process. It is then argued that a core concept, naturalistic analog simulation, may play a role in a bottom-up theory of adaptive behavior which provides an alternative to representational analyses. The appendix discusses some formal conditions for naturalistic analog (...)
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  38. added 2014-03-27
    Structure and Dynamics in Implementation of Computations.Jacques Mallah - forthcoming - In Yasemin J. Erden (ed.), Proceedings of the 7th AISB Symposium on Computing and Philosophy:. AISB.
    Without a proper restriction on mappings, virtually any system could be seen as implementing any computation. That would not allow characterization of systems in terms of implemented computations and is not compatible with a computationalist philosophy of mind. Information-based criteria for independence of substates within structured states are proposed as a solution. Objections to the use of requirements for transitions in counterfactual states are addressed, in part using the partial-brain argument as a general counterargument to neural replacement arguments.
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  39. added 2014-03-24
    On Effective Procedures.Carol E. Cleland - 2002 - Minds and Machines 12 (2):159-179.
    Since the mid-twentieth century, the concept of the Turing machine has dominated thought about effective procedures. This paper presents an alternative to Turing's analysis; it unifies, refines, and extends my earlier work on this topic. I show that Turing machines cannot live up to their billing as paragons of effective procedure; at best, they may be said to provide us with mere procedure schemas. I argue that the concept of an effective procedure crucially depends upon distinguishing procedures as definite courses (...)
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  40. added 2014-03-23
    Neural and Super-Turing Computing.Hava T. Siegelmann - 2003 - Minds and Machines 13 (1):103-114.
    ``Neural computing'' is a research field based on perceiving the human brain as an information system. This system reads its input continuously via the different senses, encodes data into various biophysical variables such as membrane potentials or neural firing rates, stores information using different kinds of memories (e.g., short-term memory, long-term memory, associative memory), performs some operations called ``computation'', and outputs onto various channels, including motor control commands, decisions, thoughts, and feelings. We show a natural model of neural computing that (...)
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  41. added 2014-03-23
    Supermachines and Superminds.Eric Steinhart - 2003 - Minds and Machines 13 (1):155-186.
    If the computational theory of mind is right, then minds are realized by machines. There is an ordered complexity hierarchy of machines. Some finite machines realize finitely complex minds; some Turing machines realize potentially infinitely complex minds. There are many logically possible machines whose powers exceed the Church–Turing limit (e.g. accelerating Turing machines). Some of these supermachines realize superminds. Superminds perform cognitive supertasks. Their thoughts are formed in infinitary languages. They perceive and manipulate the infinite detail of fractal objects. They (...)
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  42. added 2014-03-13
    Analog and Digital Representation.Matthew Katz - 2008 - Minds and Machines 18 (3):403-408.
    In this paper, I argue for three claims. The first is that the difference between analog and digital representation lies in the format and not the medium of representation. The second is that whether a given system is analog or digital will sometimes depend on facts about the user of that system. The third is that the first two claims are implicit in Haugeland's (1998) account of the distinction.
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  43. added 2014-03-08
    The World is Either Digital or Analogue.Francesco Berto & Jacopo Tagliabue - 2014 - Synthese 191 (3):481-497.
    We address an argument by Floridi (Synthese 168(1):151–178, 2009; 2011a), to the effect that digital and analogue are not features of reality, only of modes of presentation of reality. One can therefore have an informational ontology, like Floridi’s Informational Structural Realism, without commitment to a supposedly digital or analogue world. After introducing the topic in Sect. 1, in Sect. 2 we explain what the proposition expressed by the title of our paper means. In Sect. 3, we describe Floridi’s argument. In (...)
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  44. added 2014-03-08
    Cellular Automata.Francesco Berto & Jacopo Tagliabue - 2012 - Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
    Cellular automata (henceforth: CA) are discrete, abstract computational systems that have proved useful both as general models of complexity and as more specific representations of non-linear dynamics in a variety of scientific fields. Firstly, CA are (typically) spatially and temporally discrete: they are composed of a finite or denumerable set of homogeneous, simple units, the atoms or cells. At each time unit, the cells instantiate one of a finite set of states. They evolve in parallel at discrete time steps, following (...)
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  45. added 2013-09-10
    Languages of Art.Nelson Goodman - 1968 - Bobbs-Merrill.
    . . . Unlike Dewey, he has provided detailed incisive argumentation, and has shown just where the dogmas and dualisms break down." -- Richard Rorty, The Yale Review.
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  46. added 2013-09-05
    A History of Modern Computing.Paul E. Ceruzzi - 2003 - MIT Press.
    Ceruzzi pens a history of computing from the development of the first electronic digital computer to the Web and dot-com crash.
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  47. added 2013-09-05
    Analog Computation.Albert S. Jackson - 1960 - McGraw-Hill.
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  48. added 2013-01-07
    A Virtual Solution to the Frame Problem.Jonathan A. Waskan - forthcoming - Proceedings of the First IEEE-RAS International Conference on Humanoid Robots.
    We humans often respond effectively when faced with novel circumstances. This is because we are able to predict how particular alterations to the world will play out. Philosophers, psychologists, and computational modelers have long favored an account of this process that takes its inspiration from the truth-preserving powers of formal deduction techniques. There is, however, an alternative hypothesis that is better able to account for the human capacity to predict the consequences worldly alterations. This alternative takes its inspiration from the (...)
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  49. added 2010-06-25
    Even Turing Machines Can Compute Uncomputable Functions.Jack Copeland - unknown
    Accelerated Turing machines are Turing machines that perform tasks commonly regarded as impossible, such as computing the halting function. The existence of these notional machines has obvious implications concerning the theoretical limits of computability.
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  50. added 2009-10-12
    Computers.Gualtiero Piccinini - 2008 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 89 (1):32–73.
    I offer an explication of the notion of computer, grounded in the practices of computability theorists and computer scientists. I begin by explaining what distinguishes computers from calculators. Then, I offer a systematic taxonomy of kinds of computer, including hard-wired versus programmable, general-purpose versus special-purpose, analog versus digital, and serial versus parallel, giving explicit criteria for each kind. My account is mechanistic: which class a system belongs in, and which functions are computable by which system, depends on the system's mechanistic (...)
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1 — 50 / 60