The nature of physical computation

Computation is a central theoretical notion in a variety of scientific disciplines, including computer science and cognitive science. These disciplines describe and explain certain physical systems in terms of the computations they perform. But what is it for a physical system to compute? And what distinguishes physical systems that compute from that do not?

My work develops a novel view of physical computation, which I call the resemblance account. According to this account, a physical system computes just in case, and to the extent that, it resembles a computational model in certain salient respects. This account differs from others in the literature in that it emphasizes both the relativity and context-sensitivity of physical computation. Papers associated with this project include:

  • Implementation as resemblance
  • The determinacy of computation
  • A paper on triviality arguments against computational implementation (under review)
  • A critical discussion of Giuseppe Primiero’s On the Foundations of Computing (under review)
  • A paper articulating desiderata for the philosophy of computer science (In preparation)†

† Joint work

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