PHL312 Philosophy of Computers and Computation
Classroom: MCC232
Professor: Craig DeLancey
Office: MCC212A

Current Assignments
9 May
Office hours in my office MCC212A from 10am - 12pm.
11 May
We will have a final exam in our classroom from 10:30 am - 12:30 pm. Potential questions:
  • What is the Church-Turing thesis? Why does it matter?
  • Prove the Halting Result. Why does it matter?
  • Prove the Incompressibility Result. Why does it matter?
  • Make a simple Turing machine to solve a simple problem, like addition of positive whole numbers.
  • Recognize a simple Turing machine and describe what it does.
  • Make a simple determinist finite automaton to solve a specific problem, such as to tell if a string begins and ends with "1".
  • Recognize a simple deterministic finite automaton and describe what it does.
  • Describe (very precisely!) and evaluate Bostrom's simulation argument.
  • Describe and evaluate Hofstadter's Dominoes argument. Why does it matter?
13 May
Papers due in my office by 2:00 pm! This paper can be 3-4 pages long. Use our paper format! Potential paper topics:
  • Are we living in a simulation? If you think yes, carefully explain why. If you say no, answer carefully The Simulation Argument--you must identify at least one flaw in Bostrom's explicit argument if you reject it.
  • Is computer science a science? What is a science? Why does CS qualify or not?
  • Is the concept of memes valuable, or is it too vague? How do you think memes are represented in our minds, if they exist? That is, are they syntactic entities (copies of utterances, for example), or something else? Give an example and analyze it.
  • Is knowledge best understood as highly-reproducing memes? Why or why not? If not, give a clear counter-example.
  • Any of the first paper topics that you did not write on is also acceptable (these were posted on 25 March).
Please use my Analytic Philosophy Paper format.

Tentative Assignments