What is Computation: An Epistemic Approach

  • Jiří Wiedermann
  • Jan van Leeuwen
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 8939)


Traditionally, computations are seen as processes that transform information. Definitions of computation subsequently concentrate on a description of the mechanisms that lead to such processes. The bottleneck of this approach is twofold. First, it leads to a definition of computation that is too broad and that precludes a separation of entities that, according to prevailing opinions, do perform computation from those which don’t. Secondly, it also leads to a ‘machine-dependent’ notion of computation, complicating the identification of computational processes. We present an alternative view of computation, viz. that of a knowledge generating process. From this viewpoint, computations create knowledge within the framework of ‘more or less’ formalized epistemic theories. This new perception of computation allows to concentrate upon the meaning of computations – what they do for their designers or users. It also enables one to see the existing development of computers and information technologies in a completely new perspective. It permits the extrapolation of the future of computing towards knowledge generation and accumulation, and the creative exploitation thereof in all areas of life and science. The flux of our ideas on computation bring challenging new problems to the respective research, with wide connotations in the field of artificial intelligence, in cognitive sciences, and in philosophy, epistemology and methodology of science.


Natural Language Knowledge Domain Knowledge Generation Turing Machine Computational Process 
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

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jiří Wiedermann
    • 1
  • Jan van Leeuwen
    • 2
  1. 1.Institute of Computer Science of AS CRPragueCzech Republic
  2. 2.Dept. of Information and Computing SciencesUtrecht UniversityThe Netherlands

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