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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

Chapter:
(p.4) 1 Towards an Account of Physical Computation
Source:
Physical Computation
Author(s):

Gualtiero Piccinini

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199658855.003.0002

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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