Cellular automata

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (2012)
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Abstract

Cellular automata (henceforth: CA) are discrete, abstract computational systems that have proved useful both as general models of complexity and as more specific representations of non-linear dynamics in a variety of scientific fields. Firstly, CA are (typically) spatially and temporally discrete: they are composed of a finite or denumerable set of homogeneous, simple units, the atoms or cells. At each time unit, the cells instantiate one of a finite set of states. They evolve in parallel at discrete time steps, following state update functions or dynamical transition rules: the update of a cell state obtains by taking into account the states of cells in its local neighborhood (there are, therefore, no actions at a distance). Secondly, CA are abstract, as they can be specified in purely mathematical terms and implemented in physical structures. Thirdly, CA are computational systems: they can compute functions and solve algorithmic problems. Despite functioning in a different way from traditional, Turing machine-like devices, CA with suitable rules can emulate a universal Turing machine, and therefore compute, given Turing's Thesis, anything computable....

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Author's Profile

Franz Berto
University of St. Andrews

References found in this work

Mind in Life: Biology, Phenomenology, and the Sciences of Mind.Evan Thompson - 2007 - Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press.
The Rediscovery of the Mind.John Searle - 1992 - MIT Press. Edited by Ned Block & Hilary Putnam.
Counterfactuals.David Lewis - 1973 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 36 (3):602-605.

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