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Physical Computation: A Mechanistic Account (Hardback)
  • Physical Computation: A Mechanistic Account (Hardback)
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Physical Computation: A Mechanistic Account (Hardback)

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£42.49
Hardback 336 Pages / Published: 02/07/2015
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Gualtiero Piccinini 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. Physical Computation discusses previous accounts of computation and argues that the mechanistic account is better. Many kinds of computation are explicated, such as digital vs. analog, serial vs. parallel, neural network computation, program-controlled computation, and more. Piccinini argues that computation does not entail representation or information processing although information processing entails computation. Pancomputationalism, according to which every physical system is computational, is rejected. A modest version of the physical Church-Turing thesis, according to which any function that is physically computable is computable by Turing machines, is defended.

Publisher: Oxford University Press
ISBN: 9780199658855
Number of pages: 336
Weight: 648 g
Dimensions: 240 x 163 x 27 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Piccinini's discussion is a notable contribution that offers a bounty of insights into computation and computing practice. All philosophers interested in computation must read this highly informative and thought-provoking book. * Michael Rescorla, British Journal for the Philosophy of Science *
the mechanistic account of physical computation is the best that we currently have ... Physical Computation is eminently readable and well presented, with a clear structure and helpful introduction. ... It provides a thorough ... introduction to the philosophical issues associated with computation in the physical sense and would serve as a good basis for a postgraduate or upper-level undergraduate course on the subject. Piccinini delivers a comprehensive summary of previous work on physical computation, alongside the definitive presentation of his mechanistic account, and I have no doubt that this book will become a valuable resource for future work on the topic. * Joe Dewhurst, Philosophical Psychology *

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