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Abstract: It is fairly well-known that certain hard computational problems (that is, 'difficult' problems for a digital processor to solve) can in fact be solved much more easily with an analog machine. This raises questions about the true nature of the distinction between analog and digital computation (if such a distinction exists). I try to analyze the source of the observed difference in terms of (1) expanding parallelism and (2) more generally, infinite-state Turing machines. The issue of discreteness vs continuity will also be touched upon, although it is not so important for analyzing these particular problems
Abstract: It will always remain a remarkable phenomenon in the history of philosophy, that there was a time, when even mathematicians, who at the same time were philosophers, began to doubt, not of the accuracy of their geometrical propositions so far as they concerned space, but of their objective validity and the applicability of this concept itself, and of all its corollaries, to nature. They showed much concern whether a line in nature might not consist of physical points, and consequently that true space in the object might consist of simple [discrete] parts, while the space which the geometer has in his mind [being continuous] cannot be such
Abstract: The central claim of computationalism is generally taken to be that the brain is a computer, and that any computer implementing the appropriate program would ipso facto have a mind. In this paper I argue for the following propositions: (1) The central claim of computationalism is not about computers, a concept too imprecise for a scientific claim of this sort, but is about physical calculi (instantiated discrete formal systems). (2) In matters of formality, interpretability, and so forth, analog computation and digital computation are not essentially different, and so arguments such as Searle''s hold or not as well for one as for the other. (3) Whether or not a biological system (such as the brain) is computational is a scientific matter of fact. (4) A substantive scientific question for cognitive science is whether cognition is better modeled by discrete representations or by continuous representations. (5) Cognitive science and AI need a theoretical construct that is the continuous analog of a calculus. The discussion of these propositions will illuminate several terminology traps, in which it''s all too easy to become ensnared
Abstract: Representation is central to contemporary theorizing about the mind/brain. But the nature of representation--both in the mind/brain and more generally--is a source of ongoing controversy. One way of categorizing representational types is to distinguish between the analog and the digital: the received view is that analog representations vary smoothly, while digital representations vary in a step-wise manner. I argue that this characterization is inadequate to account for the ways in which representation is used in cognitive science; in its place, I suggest an alternative taxonomy. I will defend and extend David Lewis's account of analog and digital representation, distinguishing analog from continuous representation, as well as digital from discrete representation. I will argue that the distinctions available in this four-fold account accord with representational features of theoretical interest in cognitive science more usefully than the received analog/digital dichotomy
Abstract: Stevan Harnad correctly perceives a deep problem in computationalism, the hypothesis that cognition is computation, namely, that the symbols manipulated by a computational entity do not automatically mean anything. Perhaps, he proposes, transducers and neural nets will not have this problem. His analysis goes wrong from the start, because computationalism is not as rigid a set of theories as he thinks. Transducers and neural nets are just two kinds of computational system, among many, and any solution to the semantic problem that works for them will work for most other computational systems
Abstract: I offer an explication of the notion of computer, grounded in the practices of computability theorists and computer scientists. I begin by explaining what distinguishes computers from calculators. Then, I offer a systematic taxonomy of kinds of computer, including hard-wired versus programmable, general-purpose versus special-purpose, analog versus digital, and serial versus parallel, giving explicit criteria for each kind. My account is mechanistic: which class a system belongs in, and which functions are computable by which system, depends on the system's mechanistic properties. Finally, I briefly illustrate how my account sheds light on some issues in the history and philosophy of computing as well as the philosophy of mind.
Abstract: We review the pros and cons of analog and digital computation. We propose that computation that is most efficient in its use of resources is neither analog computation nor digital computation but, rather, a mixture of the two forms. For maximum efficiency, the information and information-processing resources of the hybrid form must be distributed over many wires, with an optimal signal-to-noise ratio per wire. Our results suggest that it is likely that the brain computes in a hybrid fashion and that an underappreciated and important reason for the efficiency of the human brain, which consumes only 12 W, is the hybrid and distributed nature of its architecture.
Abstract: ``Neural computing'' is a research field based on perceiving the human brain as an information system. This system reads its input continuously via the different senses, encodes data into various biophysical variables such as membrane potentials or neural firing rates, stores information using different kinds of memories (e.g., short-term memory, long-term memory, associative memory), performs some operations called ``computation'', and outputs onto various channels, including motor control commands, decisions, thoughts, and feelings. We show a natural model of neural computing that gives rise to hyper-computation. Rigorous mathematical analysis is applied, explicating our model's exact computational power and how it changes with the change of parameters. Our analog neural network allows for supra-Turing power while keeping track of computational constraints, and thus embeds a possible answer to the superiority of the biological intelligence within the framework of classical computer science. We further propose it as standard in the field of analog computation, functioning in a role similar to that of the universal Turing machine in digital computation. In particular an analog of the Church-Turing thesis of digital computation is stated where the neural network takes place of the Turing machine