Re: Algorithms

From: HARNAD Stevan (
Date: Tue Jun 04 1996 - 11:31:20 BST

> From: "Norman, Laura" <>
> Date: Fri, 24 May 1996 10:32:38 GMT
> An algorith is a set of rules that are used in computation for aspects
> such as problem-solving.

Kid-sib would not learn what an algorithm was from this.

> In computation there are three levels of
> theory according to Marr. The middle level(intermediate) is the
> algorithmic level where the exaxt nature of computation is specified.

Yes, Marr mentions algorithms too, but you need to define them, before
trying to relate them to Marr's hierarchy.

> Algorithmic processes can be studied regardless of how the processes
> were installed originally on the actual device.

What does this mean? Implementation independence? But then you need to
make it clear what an algorithm is: a rule for manipulating symbols
on the basis of their shapes, which are arbitrary, hence the details
of the physical implementation of the symbols and manipulations, the
hardware, is irrelevant; al that matters is the algorithm, the
programme, i.e., the software.

> Agolrithms are
> mindless, with them in computation, a homunculus is not needed and we
> do not have to actually understand them. Any person who can understand
> instructions can use algorithms.

Yes, but their interest here is not in people using them, but in their
being the basis of cognition: algorithms in the head, the language of

> Some people think that algorithms
> apply to procedures that are guaranteed to solve problems, whereas
> others think that it extends to wider range of problems such as
> incomplete procedures.

These are details about algorithms that you have found from a definition
somewhere, but here they need to be related to the themes of the course:
computation, symbol manipulation, the language of thought...

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