Information processing as an account of concrete digital computation

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is common in cognitive science to equate computation (and in particular digital computation) with information processing. Yet, it is hard to find a comprehensive explicit account of concrete digital computation in information processing terms. An information processing account seems like a natural candidate to explain digital computation. But when 'information' comes under scrutiny, this account becomes a less obvious candidate. Four interpretations of information are examined here as the basis for an information processing account of digital computation, namely Shannon information, algorithmic information, factual information and instructional information. I argue that any plausible account of concrete computation has to be capable of explaining at least the three key algorithmic notions of input, output and procedures. Whist algorithmic information fares better than Shannon information, the most plausible candidate for an information processing account is instructional information.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)31-60
Number of pages30
JournalPhilosophy and Technology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Algorithm
  • Algorithmic information
  • Cognitive science
  • Concrete digital computation
  • Factual information
  • Instructional information
  • Program
  • Shannon information
  • Turing machines

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Philosophy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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