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Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity Scott Aaronson #
 

Summary: Why Philosophers Should Care About Computational Complexity
Scott Aaronson #
Abstract
One might think that, once we know something is computable, how e#ciently it can be com­
puted is a practical question with little further philosophical importance. In this essay, I o#er a
detailed case that one would be wrong. In particular, I argue that computational complexity the­
ory---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, 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.
Contents
1 Introduction 2
1.1 What This Essay Won't Cover . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
2 Complexity 101 5
3 The Relevance of Polynomial Time 6
3.1 The Entscheidungsproblem Revisited . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
3.2 Evolvability . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
3.3 Known Integers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

  

Source: Aaronson, Scott - Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

 

Collections: Physics; Computer Technologies and Information Sciences