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Spring 2019 Course Announcements

PHIL 8670: Seminar in Philosophy of Science

Prof. Samuel C. Fletcher
Thursdays, 4 - 6:60 pm,
731 Heller Hall

This seminar will focus on the historical, mathematical, philosophical, and scientific interconnections between theories of computation and theories of physical phenomena. It will be guided topically by the chapters in the recently published volume, Physical Perspectives on Computation, Computational Perspectives on Physics (Cambridge University Press, 2018). These are divided into four parts:


I. The Computability of Physical Systems and Physical Systems as Computers. Topics include pancomputationalism and variations on the Church-Turing thesis, including historical aspects thereof.

II. The Implementation of Computation in Physical Systems. Topics include explanations of the power of quantum computing, the physics of information, and accounts of physical computational implementation, including in biological systems.

III. Physical Perspectives on Computer Science. Topics include intermediate Turing degrees, how physics has motivated the problems of scientific computing, and the implications of general relativity for theories of computation.

IV. Computational Perspectives on Physical Theory. Topics include the thermodynamics of computation, Landauer's principle, Maxwell's demon, and information-theoretical reconstructions of quantum theory.

For questions or more information, please contact Prof. Fletcher (


Updated November 14, 2018