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Physical Hypercomputation and the Church–Turing Thesis
, 2003
"... We describe a possible physical device that computes a function that cannot be computed by a Turing machine. The device is physical in the sense that it is compatible with General Relativity. We discuss some objections, focusing on those which deny that the device is either a computer or computes a ..."
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We describe a possible physical device that computes a function that cannot be computed by a Turing machine. The device is physical in the sense that it is compatible with General Relativity. We discuss some objections, focusing on those which deny that the device is either a computer or computes a function that is not Turing computable. Finally, we argue that the existence of the device does not refute the Church–Turing thesis, but nevertheless may be a counterexample to Gandy’s thesis.
Alan Turing and the Mathematical Objection
 Minds and Machines 13(1
, 2003
"... Abstract. This paper concerns Alan Turing’s ideas about machines, mathematical methods of proof, and intelligence. By the late 1930s, Kurt Gödel and other logicians, including Turing himself, had shown that no finite set of rules could be used to generate all true mathematical statements. Yet accord ..."
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Abstract. This paper concerns Alan Turing’s ideas about machines, mathematical methods of proof, and intelligence. By the late 1930s, Kurt Gödel and other logicians, including Turing himself, had shown that no finite set of rules could be used to generate all true mathematical statements. Yet according to Turing, there was no upper bound to the number of mathematical truths provable by intelligent human beings, for they could invent new rules and methods of proof. So, the output of a human mathematician, for Turing, was not a computable sequence (i.e., one that could be generated by a Turing machine). Since computers only contained a finite number of instructions (or programs), one might argue, they could not reproduce human intelligence. Turing called this the “mathematical objection ” to his view that machines can think. Logicomathematical reasons, stemming from his own work, helped to convince Turing that it should be possible to reproduce human intelligence, and eventually compete with it, by developing the appropriate kind of digital computer. He felt it should be possible to program a computer so that it could learn or discover new rules, overcoming the limitations imposed by the incompleteness and undecidability results in the same way that human mathematicians presumably do. Key words: artificial intelligence, ChurchTuring thesis, computability, effective procedure, incompleteness, machine, mathematical objection, ordinal logics, Turing, undecidability The ‘skin of an onion ’ analogy is also helpful. In considering the functions of the mind or the brain we find certain operations which we can express in purely mechanical terms. This we say does not correspond to the real mind: it is a sort of skin which we must strip off if we are to find the real mind. But then in what remains, we find a further skin to be stripped off, and so on. Proceeding in this way, do we ever come to the ‘real ’ mind, or do we eventually come to the skin which has nothing in it? In the latter case, the whole mind is mechanical (Turing, 1950, p. 454–455). 1.
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"... Abstract. There is an intensive discussion nowadays about the meaning of effective computability, with implications to the status and provability of the Church–Turing Thesis (CTT). I begin by reviewing what has become the dominant account of the way Turing and Church viewed, in 1936, effective compu ..."
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Abstract. There is an intensive discussion nowadays about the meaning of effective computability, with implications to the status and provability of the Church–Turing Thesis (CTT). I begin by reviewing what has become the dominant account of the way Turing and Church viewed, in 1936, effective computability. According to this account, to which I refer as the Gandy–Sieg account, Turing and Church aimed to characterize the functions that can be computed by a human computer. In addition, Turing provided a highly convincing argument for CTT by analyzing the processes carried out by a human computer. I then contend that if the Gandy–Sieg account is correct, then the notion of effective computability has changed after 1936. Today computer scientists view effective computability in terms of finite machine computation. My contention is supported by the current formulations of CTT, which always refer to machine computation, and by the current argumentation for CTT, which is different from the main arguments advanced by Turing and Church. I finally turn to discuss Robin Gandy’s characterization of machine computation. I suggest that there is an ambiguity regarding the types of machines Gandy was postulating. I offer three interpretations, which differ in their scope and limitations, and conclude that none provides the basis for claiming that Gandy characterized finite machine computation.