Minds and Machines

, Volume 21, Issue 2, pp 301–322 | Cite as

Significance of Models of Computation, from Turing Model to Natural Computation

  • Gordana Dodig-CrnkovicEmail author


The increased interactivity and connectivity of computational devices along with the spreading of computational tools and computational thinking across the fields, has changed our understanding of the nature of computing. In the course of this development computing models have been extended from the initial abstract symbol manipulating mechanisms of stand-alone, discrete sequential machines, to the models of natural computing in the physical world, generally concurrent asynchronous processes capable of modelling living systems, their informational structures and dynamics on both symbolic and sub-symbolic information processing levels. Present account of models of computation highlights several topics of importance for the development of new understanding of computing and its role: natural computation and the relationship between the model and physical implementation, interactivity as fundamental for computational modelling of concurrent information processing systems such as living organisms and their networks, and the new developments in logic needed to support this generalized framework. Computing understood as information processing is closely related to natural sciences; it helps us recognize connections between sciences, and provides a unified approach for modeling and simulating of both living and non-living systems.


Philosophy of computer science Philosophy of computing Theory of computation Hypercomputing Philosophy of information Models of computation 



The author would like to thank Björn Lisper, Lars-Göran Johansson and Kaj Börje Hansen for reviewing the manuscript and offering valuable suggestions. Further credit is extended to Richard Bonner and George Masterton for their interesting comments and discussions. I am most indebted to Vincent Müller with whom I newly wrote a dialogue article based on several years of discussions on topics of foundation of information and computation. Last but not list I would like to acknowledge the constructive criticisms and helpful suggestions of two anonymous reviewers on an earlier version of this paper.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Computer Science Laboratory, School of Innovation, Design and EngineeringMälardalen UniversityVästeråsSweden

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