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Philosophy Faculty Works

University of Missouri, St. Louis

2007

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Computing Mechanisms, Gualtiero Piccinini Oct 2007

Computing Mechanisms, Gualtiero Piccinini

Philosophy Faculty Works

This paper offers an account of what it is for a physical system to be a computing mechanism—a system that performs computations. A computing mechanism is a mechanism whose function is to generate output strings from input strings and (possibly) internal states, in accordance with a general rule that applies to all relevant strings and depends on the input strings and (possibly) internal states for its application. This account is motivated by reasons endogenous to the philosophy of computing, namely, doing justice to the practices of computer scientists and computability theorists. It is also an application of recent literature ...