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Beebe, Cameron (2016): Model-Based Computation. In: Amos, Martyn (ed.) : Unconventional Computation and Natural Computation: 15th International Conference, UCNC 2016, Manchester, UK, July 11-15, 2016, Proceedings. Theoretical Computer Science and General Issues, Vol. 9726. Cham: Springer. pp. 75-86
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A brief analysis of analog computation is presented, taking into account both historical and more modern statements. I will show that two very different concepts are tangled together in some of the literature-namely continuous valued computation and analogy machines. I argue that a more general concept, that of model-based computation, can help us untangle this misconception while also helping to evaluate two particularly interesting kinds of computational claims. The first kind concerns computational claims about the brain, in the spirit of Searle's Is the Brain a Digital Computer? The second kind concerns what has recently been called analog simulation, most notably in systems reproducing effects analogous to Hawking Radiation. Some final comments discuss how a model-based notion of computation helps us understand in a more concrete way the differences found among alternative models of computation.