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Computations via experiments with kinematic systems
, 2004
"... Consider the idea of computing functions using experiments with kinematic systems. We prove that for any set A of natural numbers there exists a 2dimensional kinematic system BA with a single particle P whose observable behaviour decides n ∈ A for all n ∈ N. The system is a bagatelle and can be des ..."
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Cited by 14 (5 self)
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Consider the idea of computing functions using experiments with kinematic systems. We prove that for any set A of natural numbers there exists a 2dimensional kinematic system BA with a single particle P whose observable behaviour decides n ∈ A for all n ∈ N. The system is a bagatelle and can be designed to operate under (a) Newtonian mechanics or (b) Relativistic mechanics. The theorem proves that valid models of mechanical systems can compute all possible functions on discrete data. The proofs show how any information (coded by some A) can be embedded in the structure of a simple kinematic system and retrieved by simple observations of its behaviour. We reflect on this undesirable situation and argue that mechanics must be extended to include a formal theory for performing experiments, which includes the construction of systems. We conjecture that in such an extended mechanics the functions computed by experiments are precisely those computed by algorithms. We set these theorems and ideas in the context of the literature on the general problem “Is physical behaviour computable? ” and state some open problems.
The Broad Conception Of Computation
 American Behavioral Scientist
, 1997
"... A myth has arisen concerning Turing's paper of 1936, namely that Turing set forth a fundamental principle concerning the limits of what can be computed by machine  a myth that has passed into cognitive science and the philosophy of mind, to wide and pernicious effect. This supposed principle, somet ..."
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Cited by 11 (2 self)
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A myth has arisen concerning Turing's paper of 1936, namely that Turing set forth a fundamental principle concerning the limits of what can be computed by machine  a myth that has passed into cognitive science and the philosophy of mind, to wide and pernicious effect. This supposed principle, sometimes incorrectly termed the 'ChurchTuring thesis', is the claim that the class of functions that can be computed by machines is identical to the class of functions that can be computed by Turing machines. In point of fact Turing himself nowhere endorses, nor even states, this claim (nor does Church). I describe a number of notional machines, both analogue and digital, that can compute more than a universal Turing machine. These machines are exemplars of the class of nonclassical computing machines. Nothing known at present rules out the possibility that machines in this class will one day be built, nor that the brain itself is such a machine. These theoretical considerations undercut a numb...