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What Is Computation?

B. Jack Copeland
Synthese
Vol. 108, No. 3, Computation, Cognition and AI (Sep., 1996), pp. 335-359
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20117547
Page Count: 25
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What Is Computation?
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Abstract

To compute is to execute an algorithm. More precisely, to say that a device or organ computes is to say that there exists a modelling relationship of a certain kind between it and a formal specification of an algorithm and supporting architecture. The key issue is to delimit the phrase 'of a certain kind'. I call this the problem of distinguishing between standard and nonstandard models of computation. The successful drawing of this distinction guards Turing's 1936 analysis of computation against a difficulty that has persistently been raised against it, and undercuts various objections that have been made to the computational theory of mind.

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