The instructional information processing account of digital computation

Nir Fresco, Marty J. Wolf

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1469-1492
Number of pages24
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2014
Externally publishedYes


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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy
  • General Social Sciences


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