Accessibility navigation

Abstract platforms of computation

Spencer, M. C., Roesch, E. B., Nasuto, S. J., Tanay, T. and Bishop, J. M. (2013) Abstract platforms of computation. In: AISB 2013, 3-5 April 2013, Exeter, pp. 25-32.

Text - Accepted Version
· Please see our End User Agreement before downloading.


It is advisable to refer to the publisher's version if you intend to cite from this work. See Guidance on citing.

Official URL:


Computational formalisms have been pushing the boundaries of the field of computing for the last 80 years and much debate has surrounded what computing entails; what it is, and what it is not. This paper seeks to explore the boundaries of the ideas of computation and provide a framework for enabling a constructive discussion of computational ideas. First, a review of computing is given, ranging from Turing Machines to interactive computing. Then, a variety of natural physical systems are considered for their computational qualities. From this exploration, a framework is presented under which all dynamical systems can be considered as instances of the class of abstract computational platforms. An abstract computational platform is defined by both its intrinsic dynamics and how it allows computation that is meaningful to an external agent through the configuration of constraints upon those dynamics. It is asserted that a platform’s computational expressiveness is directly related to the freedom with which constraints can be placed. Finally, the requirements for a formal constraint description language are considered and it is proposed that Abstract State Machines may provide a reasonable basis for such a language.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Divisions:Life Sciences > School of Biological Sciences > Department of Bio-Engineering
Interdisciplinary Research Centres (IDRCs) > Centre for Integrative Neuroscience and Neurodynamics (CINN)
ID Code:35696
Additional Information:Published in: The 6th AISB Symposium on Computing and Philosophy: The Scandal of Computation - What is Computation? Mark Bishop and Yasemin J. Erden (editors) AISB Convention 2013, University of Exeter, 3rd–5th April, 2013. Published by The Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and the Simulation of Behaviour ISBN: 9781908187314


Downloads per month over past year

University Staff: Request a correction | Centaur Editors: Update this record

Page navigation