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A brief analysis of analog computation is presented, taking into account both historical and more modern statements. I show that two very different concepts are tangled together in some of the literature—namely continuous valued computation and analogy machines. I argue that a more general concept, that of model-based computation, can help us untangle this misconception. A two-dimensional view of computation is offered, in which this model-based dimension is orthogonal to the dimension concerning the type of variables used in components. I argue that this is a useful framework for assessing alternative computing devices and computational claims in an expanding landscape of computation.
KeywordsModel Computation Analog
I would like to thank Bernd Ulmann for introducing me to my own errors on the foundations of analog computation, and for motivating this present analysis. Among others, Michael Cuffaro, Ulrike Hahn, Stephan Hartmann, Christian Leibold, Gregory Wheeler, and Richard Whyman provided substantial feedback and discussion of the topic during the writing of this paper.
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