Human-Centered Systems (HCS)
Thursday March 20, 13-15,
Room: Alan Turing
Speaker: Brian Cantwell Smith, University of Toronto
Solving the Halting Problem (and Other Mischief in the Foundations of Computing)
The unsolvability of the halting problem is one of the most famous results in computer science. Curiously, though, the halting problem is easy to solve, if you use non-standard encodings. But as everyone knows, non-standard encodings are illegal. Computability theory requires that numbers be represented on tapes by "reasonable" encodings. This fact raises three foundational questions: 1. If reasonable representations are so important, why are they so little studied? 2. What are the conditions on an encoding for it to be "reasonable"? 3. Where do these reasonableness constraints come from? Are they fundamentally physical, semantical, mathematical, or logical?
I will propose answers to all three questions. Doing so, though, will require turning our classical understanding of the theory of computing upside down, with implications not only for computer science, but also for artificial intelligence and cognitive science.
Brian Cantwell Smith is Professor of Information, Philosophy, and Computer Science at the University of Toronto, where he is also Director of the Coach House Institute, home of the McLuhan Program in Culture & Technology. His research focuses on the conceptual foundations of computation and information, and on metaphysics, ontology, and epistemology. He is the author of âOn the Origin of Objectsâ (MIT, 1996), two volumes of papers forthcoming (in 2014) from Harvard University Press entitled âIndiscrete Affairs,â and a long-rumored 7-volume series on the philosophy of computation to be published by MIT Press. After receiving a doctorate from MIT for research on reflection, he was Principal Scientist at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Centre (PARC), adjunct professor in Philosophy and Computer Science at Stanford University, a founder of the Stanford-based Centre for the Study of Language and Information (CSLI), and a founder and first President of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR). In 1996 he moved to Indiana University in Bloomington, and from 2001 to 2003 held the Kimberly J. Jenkins University Professorship of Philosophy and New Technologies at Duke University.
Page responsible: Arne Jönsson
Last updated: 2014-03-05