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Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity

Aaronson, Scott (2011) Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity. [Preprint]


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One might think that, once we know something is computable, how efficiently it can be computed is a practical question with little further philosophical importance. In this essay, I offer a detailed case that one would be wrong. In particular, I argue that computational complexity theory---the field that studies the resources (such as time, space, and randomness) needed to solve computational problems---leads to new perspectives on the nature of mathematical knowledge, the strong AI debate, computationalism, the problem of logical omniscience, Hume's problem of induction and Goodman's grue riddle, the foundations of quantum mechanics, economic rationality, closed timelike curves, and several other topics of philosophical interest. I end by discussing aspects of complexity theory itself that could benefit from philosophical analysis.

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Item Type: Preprint
Additional Information: To appear in "Computability: Gödel, Turing, Church, and beyond," MIT Press, 2012
Keywords: Turing Test, Chinese room, problem of induction, bleen/grue, computational learning theory, PAC-learning, computationalism, theoretical computer science, bounded rationality, omniscience, quantum computing
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Computation/Information > Classical
Specific Sciences > Biology > Evolutionary Theory
Specific Sciences > Computation/Information > Quantum
Specific Sciences > Computer Science > Artificial Intelligence
General Issues > Confirmation/Induction
Specific Sciences > Economics
General Issues > Formal Learning Theory
Specific Sciences > Mathematics
Specific Sciences > Physics > Quantum Mechanics
Depositing User: Dr. Scott Aaronson
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2011 11:09
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2011 11:09
Item ID: 8748

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