Questions tagged [computation]

Computational theory is the study of calculations. Important questions are: what can be computed? How quickly can it be computed? What requirements or abilities must a computer have?

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Is the universe isomorphic to a universal turing machine?

I often think about problems that require an understanding of the very essence of computation and its inherent limitations. So, my questions are as followed: Is the universe isomorphic to a universal ...
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What are the philosophical consequences of the undecidability of the spectral gap in quantum theory?

An article published in Nature yesterday proves that finding the spectral gap of a material based on a complete quantum level description of the material is undecidable (in the Turing sense). One of ...
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What are some good books about computational ethics?

Gert-Jan C. Lokhorst has written a paper on "computational metaethics" (Computational Meta-Ethics: Towards the Meta-Ethical Robot), which explores the ability of formal systems (i.e. computers/robots) ...
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If we live in a simulated world, doesn't there have to be a first world that's real?

There are people who believe we live in a world, simulated on a computer. That computer must have been built in either another computer-generated world or a real world (by which I mean a non-simulated ...
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How does Penrose defeat the computational theory of mind?

In Shadows Of The Mind Roger Penrose puts forth a Gödelian argument against the computational theory of mind. He then goes on to suggest that quantum mechanics plays a central role in the realization ...
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How can the physical world be an abstract mathematical structure a la Tegmark?

This is Tegmark's short formulation of the "mathematical universe" (paraphrased by detractors as "reality made of math"), and he goes out of his way to stress that he means the "is" literally:"Whereas ...
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5answers
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What are computable numbers, and what is their philosophical significance?

What are Computable Numbers? Is computability (or non-computability) some sort of technology-dependent characteristic of numbers (via e.g. Turing Machines)? What are the philosophical implications or ...
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What is the best scientific argumentation against the Dust Theory?

The "Dust Theory", by Greg Egan, states that... ... there is no difference, even in principle, between physics and mathematics, and that all mathematically possible structures exist, among them ...
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Computational counter-argument for solipsism [closed]

First let me elaborate the argument. Take a calculator (wolframalpha, google or other software tools may serve as well). Perform some very complex operation. Write down the operation and the result ...
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7answers
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Can computers be programmed to be 'creative'?

When a artist strokes their brush on a canvas and paints a beautiful work of art they may be referred as creative person. Or perhaps a musician or a writer. Does this creativeness come from the soul ...
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Why can't an algorithm understand incompleteness?

I've heard a lot of people say that Gödel's proof shows that human intelligence somehow goes beyond what a computer could ever do. It's only ever been articulated to me very badly, though not for want ...
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Do machine learning algorithms have knowledge (if not justified true beliefs)?

By "machine learning algorithm" I'm referring to basic, primarily statistical, machine learning algorithms; for concrete examples consider simple classifier algorithms like SVM or Bayesian classifier ...
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Logic and Computation : a philosophical viewpoint

The link between logic and computation is stronger than ever, especially since the establishment of the Curry-Howard isomorphism specifying that proofs can be seen as programs and formulas as program'...
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In what way is the lambda calculus stronger than first-order logic?

This wikipedia article on combinatory logic says that Combinatory Logic, Lambda Logic and Turing Machines are equivalent computationally, but that both of these exceed the expressive power of first-...
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What role does “counting histories” play in Deutsch's critique of the “simulation argument”?

In his book The Beginning of Infinity, David Deutsch argues that there is a problematic assumption behind the simulation argument that "virtually all instances of us are in ... simulations and not in ...
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Does Searle's Chinese Room model computers correctly?

Searle invented a thought experiment, the Chinese Room, which he proposes is an argument against Strong AI (that machines think) but not against Weak AI (that machines simulate thinking), he has a man ...
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648 views

Is the human mind equivalent in computational capacity to a Turing machine?

Is it possible to formally prove that the human mind is equivalent in computational capacity to a Turing machine? Some papers that were helpful to me in understanding this issue: Minds, Machines and ...
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Succinct argument for the fundamental role of binary digits as information units

I will clear up the context of this question so that the potential answers can be effectively targeted towards what I'm looking for. Information (at least in the non-semantic, canonical sense of the ...
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5answers
615 views

Why doesn't the Chinese room learn Chinese?

I just can't see how John Searle's Chinese room makes sense. The room passes the Turing test. People outside the room think there's a human inside who understands Chinese. But, Searle explains, the ...
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How to understand numbers that become really large?

If we begin with a notion of number N that we denote F(N) as a function of time, can a decidable procedure exist on definability of the growth of numbers? Inspired by Tipler's Omega point and Thomson'...
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Book Recommendation for Computational Theory of Mind

These days I'm really into studying the Computational Theory of Mind (CTM) and I have read papers and documents online. However, I have difficulty capturing the overall (received) theories of CTM at ...
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Are uncomputable numbers/things a problem for Wheeler's “it from bit”?

I have some questions related to Wheeler's ideas of "It from bit" and "Law without law" In summary, these both theories postulate that there was an initial universe with no laws from which laws of ...
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To be or not be—what would a conscious computer decide?

The Prometheus myth can be interpreted as consciousness being a burden. Camus used the myth of Sisyphus to debate the same issue. It is the theme of a famous speech from Hamlet. Heidegger talks of ...
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Is thinking algorithmic?

I'm wondering about the fundamental differences between human thinking and computer thinking. Is it wise to consider all human thinking in terms of algorithms?
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Would a conscious computer naturally hold a solipsistic philosophy?

We're biologically incapable of ignoring our senses. I want to clarify what I mean by this, because as posters have suggested we actually can do so, for example by blinding or gouging our eyes. I'm ...
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Where is the knowledge that AI's “knowledge representations” represent?

I find this really confusing. AI often says its computer systems "know" things, but when AI explains how to program a computer to be intelligent, it talks only about "knowledge representation". E.g., ...
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What are the philosophical implications of the fact that Rule 110 is universal?

I just read the Wikipedia article on Rule 110 and there was a short remark that the simplicity of that rule might imply that it can exist in physical systems in nature. "Physical systems may also be ...
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1answer
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Who first studied “logical (ir)reversibility”?

Who first studied "logical (ir)reversibility" philosophically? By "logical (ir)reversibility" I mean questions like:Why is it easier to multiply large numbers than to factorize them? understand a ...
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Similar to Douglas Adam's HGTTG, Is there any philosophy that views human society as a computation?

In Douglas Adam's Hitchhikers guide to the Galaxy, Earth is a supercomputer that is computing the the Ultimate question, whose answer is 42. I was wondering is Douglas Adams was inspired by any ...
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1answer
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What is the connection between temporal and epistemic knowledge?

Recently I read all kinds of work from logic scientists in which epistemic logic was the main topic. Where epistmic change refers to change in knowledge of some agent in a multi-agent system (in a non-...
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1answer
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The mathematical language of the brain

This question is similar, but not identical, to one I posted to the mathematics SE some time ago. I was originally unsure of where to post it. I believe this question is sufficiently different to ...
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Can Schmidhuber's hypothesis reproduce all types of universes? And Wheeler's it from bit? Or Weizsäcker's ur-theory?

I found a paper that talked about paraconsistent logic systems (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraconsistent_logic) and trivialist systems (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trivialism) and the ...
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Dichotomy problem: limits of binary systems

What are the limitations of accumulating or storing knowledge in a binary system? For a more concrete question, can all knowledge information be represented by an infinite sequence of 1's and 0's or ...
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Does running a program about quantum mechanics on a quantum computer count as an experiment or a simulation?

When it comes to the simulation vs. experiment debate, some proponents of simulations argue they have equal epistemic value because computer simulations are physical processes happening inside a ...
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2answers
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Quantum Mechanics has formally undecidable problems. What is the philosophical significance of this?

A certain problem is quantum mechanics has been shown to be uncomputable. This means that although it is in a certain sense making a prediction, there is no systematic way to determine what prediction ...
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Input/output in 'mathematical' programming languages [closed]

More than once I have observed this: A person describes a functional programming language (as opposed to a programming language that makes heavy use of interspersed states), that person will say it is ...
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197 views

Not Turing reducible = non-physical?

According to the following question, it is likely the physical universe can be simulated on a Turing machine. Is the universe isomorphic to a universal turing machine? If so, does this imply ...
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1answer
132 views

What do dual-intuitionistic and minimal logic model?

As someone interested in theoretical computer science, I'm fairly comfortable with what intuitionistic logic represents. An intuitionistic proof is a proof we can act upon algorithmically. The law of ...
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1answer
327 views

What did John Searle mean by these self-contradictory statements?

In his 1980 article “Minds, Brains and Programs” John Searle wrote: ” Of course the brain is a digital computer. Since everything is a digital computer, brains are too. The point ...
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1answer
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Inconsistency in Tegmark's Mathematical Universe Hypothesis?

Physicist Max Tegmark is widely known for proposing that there is a multiverse where mathematical structures would exist as real and actual universes (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
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Does the simulation hypothesis confuse discovering with inventing?

The simulation hypothesis seems to stipulate that the actual simulation is what makes the inhabitants of the simulated universe to come alive, to exist. This is what I am questioning. If I create a ...
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Entanglement and the computability of nature

(Note - I edited to the question in response to answers) In the 1935 EPR paper, Einstein, Podolsky and Rosen write that given two entangled particles, one particle can be used to predict with ...
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2answers
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In a Computational Theory of Mind, how do we identify what is being computed?

In a Computational Theory of Mind, how do we identify what is being computed and/or what algorithm is being executed? In general, a process can be viewed at different levels of abstraction. So, for ...
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What are the essential differences between Quantum & Classical Turing Machines?

The classical Turing machine comes in a variety of different flavours. The basic version is the one first outlined by Turing, the non-deterministic version allows finite branching at every computation ...
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1answer
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Where to find the “tightened up” definitions of computing mentioned by Searle?

I think it is probably possible to block the result of universal realizability by tightening up our definition of computation. Certainly we ought to respect the fact that programmers and engineers ...
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0answers
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Is 't Hooft cellular automaton compatible with Floridi's Informational (Structural) Realism?

Informational (Structural) Realism (by Luciano Floridi) relates to digital physics ideas (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_physics) As Floridi himself says in one of his articles (http://philsci-...
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4answers
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Determinism and P=NP

This one has been busting my brain for quite a while now. As far as physics currently tells us, we live in a world where the physical laws are inductive but not deterministic, because at some ...
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2answers
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Do limitations on computability and computational resources have any consequences for epistemology?

Do Turing undecidability and computational complexity considerations (NP-hardness, etc...) have consequences for epistemology? If X function or propostion is undecidable or requires an intractable ...
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2answers
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Scientificity of the Church-Turing's thesis

The definition of the Church-Turing's thesis is an attempt at capturing the intuitive idea of effective computability or "things that can actually be calculated". It has been said that it is not ...
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1answer
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Can computers do things Turing machines can't?

Today's electronic digital computers are often referred to as universal Turing machines. That is, the concept of the UTM is used to understand today's stored-program electronic digital computers. But ...