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Physical ComputationA Mechanistic Account$
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Gualtiero Piccinini

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199658855

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658855.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 21 January 2022

Towards an Account of Physical Computation

Towards an Account of Physical Computation

(p.4) 1 Towards an Account of Physical Computation
Physical Computation

Gualtiero Piccinini

Oxford University Press

This chapter introduces abstract (mathematical) computation, concrete (physical) computation, the question of their relation, and the problem of giving an account of concrete computation. Turing machines and the Church-Turing thesis are introduced. This chapter also introduces degrees of abstraction among descriptions of physical systems. This book will defend a mechanistic account of computation as a solution to the problem of computational implementation. 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. It will be argued that the mechanistic account satisfies the desiderata better than the competition.

Keywords:   abstract computation, mathematical computation, concrete computation, physical computation, abstraction, mechanistic account, desiderata

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