, Volume 108, Issue 3, pp 335–359 | Cite as

What is computation?

  • B. Jack Copeland


To compute is to execute an algorithm. More precisely, to say that a device or organ computes is to say that there exists a modelling relationship of a certain kind between it and a formal specification of an algorithm and supporting architecture. The key issue is to delimit the phrase ‘of a certain kind’. I call this the problem of distinguishing between standard and nonstandard models of computation. The successful drawing of this distinction guards Turing's 1936 analysis of computation against a difficulty that has persistently been raised against it, and undercuts various objections that have been made to the computational theory of mind.


Formal Specification Computational Theory Modelling Relationship Supporting Architecture Nonstandard Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Jack Copeland
    • 1
  1. 1.Philosophy DepartmentUniversity of CanterburyChristchurchNew Zealand

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