Minds and Machines

, Volume 28, Issue 3, pp 385–426 | Cite as

What is a Computer? A Survey

  • William J. RapaportEmail author


A critical survey of some attempts to define ‘computer’, beginning with some informal ones (from reference books, and definitions due to H. Simon, A.L. Samuel, and M. Davis), then critically evaluating those of three philosophers (J.R. Searle, P.J. Hayes, and G. Piccinini), and concluding with an examination of whether the brain and the universe are computers.


Computers Computation Herbert Simon Arthur Samuel Martin Davis John Searle Patrick Hayes Gualtiero Piccinini Turing machines 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Computer Science and Engineering, Center for Cognitive ScienceUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy, Center for Cognitive ScienceUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA
  3. 3.Department of Linguistics, Center for Cognitive ScienceUniversity at Buffalo, The State University of New YorkBuffaloUSA

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