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

Authors
Nir Fresco
Ben-Gurion University of the Negev
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)
DOI 10.1007/s10849-011-9147-8
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 33,190
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Language of Thought.Jerry A. Fodor - 1975 - Harvard University Press.
The Emperor's New Mind.Roger Penrose - 1989 - Oxford University Press.

View all 37 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

On Implementing a Computation.David J. Chalmers - 1994 - Minds and Machines 4 (4):391-402.
When Physical Systems Realize Functions.Matthias Scheutz - 1999 - Minds and Machines 9 (2):161-196.
A Computational Foundation for the Study of Cognition.David J. Chalmers - 2011 - Journal of Cognitive Science 12 (4):323-357.
Computationalism.Valerie Gray Hardcastle - 1995 - Synthese 105 (3):303-17.
Computation as an Intrinsic Property.C. F. Boyle - 1994 - Minds and Machines 4 (4):451-67.
Computation and Hypercomputation.Mike Stannett - 2003 - Minds and Machines 13 (1):115-153.
What Might Dynamical Intentionality Be, If Not Computation?Ronald L. Chrisley - 1998 - Behavioral and Brain Sciences 21 (5):634-635.
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.
Transcending Turing Computability.B. Maclennan - 2003 - Minds and Machines 13 (1):3-22.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2011-10-18

Total downloads
42 ( #143,022 of 2,242,505 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #231,953 of 2,242,505 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Monthly downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature