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Physical Computation – A Mechanistic Account - Oxford Scholarship Online
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Physical Computation: A Mechanistic Account

Gualtiero Piccinini


This book articulates and defends a mechanistic account of concrete, or physical, computation. A physical system is a computing system just in case it is a mechanism one of whose functions is to manipulate vehicles based solely on differences between different portions of the vehicles according to a rule defined over the vehicles. Six desiderata to be satisfied by an account of concrete computation are set out: 1) objectivity; 2) explanation; 3) the right things compute; 4) the wrong things don’t compute; 5) miscomputation is explained; and 6) taxonomy. The book discusses previous accounts of ... More

Keywords: computation, mechanism, function, hypercomputers, pancomputationalism, digital, analog, neural network, program, information processing, physical Church-Turing thesis

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780199658855
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658855.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Gualtiero Piccinini, author
University of Missouri, St. Louis