When does a physical systems compute: Is physics more or less than computation?



Playing this video requires the latest flash player from Adobe.

Download link (right click and 'save-as') for playing in VLC or other compatible player.


Recording Details

Speaker(s): 
Scientific Areas: 
PIRSA Number: 
18040108

Abstract

Landauer's famous dictum that 'information is physical' has been enthusiastically taken on by a range of communities, with researchers in areas from quantum and unconventional computing to biology, psychology, and economics adopting the language of information processing. However, this rush to make all science about computing runs the risk of collapsing into triviality: if every physical process is computing, then to say that something performs computation gives no meaningful information about it, leaving computational language devoid of content. In this talk I will give an introduction to Abstraction/Representation Theory, a framework for representing both computing and physical science that allows us to draw a meaningful distinction between them. The use of AR theory - with its commuting-diagrammatic framework and associated algebra of representation - allows us to take significant steps towards giving a formal language and framework for the processes of science. I will show how AR theory represents this process (including the potential for automation), and the insights it gives into the usage and limits of computation as a formal process language for, and description of, physical sciences.