Computability and Comprehension – Is Science About Prediction?

Science is the process of how we use reason to find patterns in reality and then to explain them in finite explanations of reality that allow us to represent reality via processes that are computable.

In my last post, I introduced David Deutsch’s book, The Fabric of Reality. Deutsch’s main interest is in understanding – and by that he means understanding everything. Deutsch believes that understanding something is to have an accurate explanation of it and that this, in turn, serves as a sort of algorithmic compression of all observational data.

Deutsch’s point of view falls under what we might call Scientific Realism. It’s the idea that science is not just about coming up with clever predictions about the world, but rather it’s about discovering reality’s true nature and comprehending it. Continue reading

Algorithmic Reducibility

Don’t miss the latest post in my “Reason as a Guide to Reality” series.

Maybe it’s because I have a computer science background, but I find the idea that algorithms might be fundamental to reality as intriguing. Is it really true that absolutely everything can be reduced to an algorithm? Here is a teaser:

Interestingly, this ability to reduce all explanations to computable algorithms forms a sort of ‘algorithmic reducibility’ that stands in stark contrast to the more familiar sort of ‘physical reducibility’ we normally think of.  In fact, if it’s true that all explanations have attached algorithms, then ‘algorithmic reducibility’ would seem to play the very role that Reductionists thought particle physics played: if you can’t reduce it to an algorithm, you don’t actually have a full explanation. Therefore this would mean that the theory of computation is actually more fundamental than particle physics.

I realize these posts are a bit ‘harder to get into’ than some. But I really believe an exploration of how we gain knowledge is a fundamental concept to understanding Theology and God.