Computation

Are we computers? With the development of symbolic logic in the late 19th century, and the more recent rapid development of computer science, the view of the mind as a computing device has been a fruitful source of theories in cognitive science.

Both "Mary saw John. So John was seen by Mary;" and "Given x = 3 and y = 4, x + y =7." can be used to report computations. Such computations have the following elements: symbols, rules, and a processor (the person). The processor operates on the symbols according to a rule. The first set of symbols is an imput and the second is output. More generally, symbolic computation refers to rule- based manipulations of symbols. For example, a German to English translation machine is programmed to follow the rules of English. The processor may be made of flesh and blook or largely plastic and metal.

There are theories of non-symbolic computation. They are often thought to apply to connectionist networks. Such networks go through transformations or changes which can conform to rules but are not caused by the rules.


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