**Next message:**HARNAD Stevan: "Re: Images Vs. Symbols"**Previous message:**Porter, Julie: "Re: Images Vs. Symbols"**Next in thread:**HARNAD Stevan: "Re: What is Computation?"**Maybe reply:**HARNAD Stevan: "Re: What is Computation?"**Messages sorted by:**[ date ] [ thread ] [ subject ] [ author ]

What is computation?

Computation is a process of symbol manipulation. It works according

to a set of rules which operate using arbitrary symbols. The

hardware (implementation) in computation is irrelevant becuse of the

arbitrariness of the symbols. The important part of computation is

the set of rules or algorithms which manipulate these symbols.

Computations work on mechanical rules which operate purely upon the

shape of the symbol without having any knowledge about what they

actually mean. Algorithms, the mechanical rules, are mindless

processes which means that computation needs no explanation like a

homunculus. This eliminates the problem that imagery theory posed.

As long as the correct procedure for manipulating the symbols is

applied the outcome will be correct regardless of whether the process

has been understood. An example of computation is the formula for a

mathematical equation ie. y = a+bx. A computer (or the mind) need not

understand what the symbols stand for, in fact it doesn't matter what

the symbols are or what shape they take as long as the rules are

learned and followed the result will be correct. The process of

computation uses input which requires no understanding to produce

correct output.

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