Minds and Machines

, Volume 22, Issue 3, pp 149–165

Empirical Encounters with Computational Irreducibility and Unpredictability

Authors

    • Department of Computer ScienceUniversity of Sheffield
  • Fernando Soler-Toscano
    • Grupo de Lógica, Lenguaje e Información, Departamento de Filosofía, Lógica, y Filosofía de la CienciaUniversidad de Sevilla
  • Joost J. Joosten
    • Grupo de Lógica, Lenguaje e Información, Departamento de Filosofía, Lógica, y Filosofía de la CienciaUniversidad de Sevilla
    • Departamento Lògica, Història i Filosofia de la CiènciaUniversitat de Barcelona
Article

DOI: 10.1007/s11023-011-9262-y

Cite this article as:
Zenil, H., Soler-Toscano, F. & Joosten, J.J. Minds & Machines (2012) 22: 149. doi:10.1007/s11023-011-9262-y

Abstract

The paper presents an exploration of conceptual issues that have arisen in the course of investigating speed-up and slowdown phenomena in small Turing machines, in particular results of a test that may spur experimental approaches to the notion of computational irreducibility. The test involves a systematic attempt to outrun the computation of a large number of small Turing machines (3 and 4 state, 2 symbol) by means of integer sequence prediction using a specialized function for that purpose. The experiment prompts an investigation into rates of convergence of decision procedures and the decidability of sets in addition to a discussion of the (un)predictability of deterministic computing systems in practice. We think this investigation constitutes a novel approach to the discussion of an epistemological question in the context of a computer simulation, and thus represents an interesting exploration at the boundary between philosophical concerns and computational experiments.

Keywords

Computational irreducibility Unpredictability Problem of induction Algorithmic epistemology Halting problem

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011