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Ubiquity symposium 'What is computation?'
Computation is process

Ubiquity, Volume 2010 Issue November, November 2010 | BY Dennis J. Frailey 


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Various authors define forms of computation as specialized types of processes. As the scope of computation widens, the range of such specialties increases. Dennis J. Frailey posits that the essence of computation can be found in any form of process, hence the title and the thesis of this paper in the Ubiquity symposium discussion what is computation. --Editor

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I think this is rather restrictive. Continuoous processes such as those taking place in a chemical plant can also be considered as computations. Specific amounts of materials are fed in and the output is the computation of the process that may be considered equivalent to some mathematical model of the process. I seem to remember that in the early days of computers we had digital computers and analog computers - the latter being used to solve equations in exactly this way often using electric current as the variable being manipulated. While working as an econometrician for the UK government I received a suggestion from an engineer who had designed a water driven model of the UK economy with taps that could be used to set parameters of the computation! This type of computation is certainly not algorithmic although unless the desired computation is equivalent to the system itself (for example stress testing) a mathematical model is required to setup the problem.

��� Geoffrey Stephenson, Tue, 30 Nov 2010 17:54:08 UTC

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