Super-Turing or Non-Turing? Extending the Concept of Computation
Bruce J. MacLennan
“Hypercomputation” is often defined as transcending Turing computation in the sense of computing a larger class of functions than can Turing machines. While this possibility is important and interesting, this paper argues that there are many other important senses in which we may “transcend Turing computation.” Turing computation, like all models, exists in a frame of relevance, which underlies the assumptions on which it rests and the questions that it is suited to answer. Although appropriate in many circumstances, there are other important applications of the idea of computation for which this model is not relevant. Therefore we should supplement it with new models based on different assumptions and suited to answering different questions. In alternative frames of relevance, including natural computation and nanocomputation, the central issues include real-time response, continuity, indeterminacy, and parallelism. Once we understand computation in a broader sense, we can see new possibilities for using physical processes to achieve computational goals, which will increase in importance as we approach the limits of electronic binary logic.
Keywords: Hypercomputation, Church-Turing thesis, natural computation, theory of computation, model of computation, Turing computation, non-Turing computation, nanocomputation.