, Volume 191, Issue 7, pp 1469–1492

The instructional information processing account of digital computation


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-013-0338-5

Cite this article as:
Fresco, N. & Wolf, M.J. Synthese (2014) 191: 1469. doi:10.1007/s11229-013-0338-5


What is nontrivial digital computation? It is the processing of discrete data through discrete state transitions in accordance with finite instructional information. The motivation for our account is that many previous attempts to answer this question are inadequate, and also that this account accords with the common intuition that digital computation is a type of information processing. We use the notion of reachability in a graph to defend this characterization in memory-based systems and underscore the importance of instructional information for digital computation. We argue that our account evaluates positively against adequacy criteria for accounts of computation.


Digital computation Information processing Instructional information Turing machines Finite state automata Physical computation Computational taxonomy 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of Engineering and Information SciencesUniversity of Wollongong (UoW)WollongongAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Mathematics and Computer Science Hagg-Sauer 368Bemidji State University #23BemidjiUSA

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