Calculating Space

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An elementary process in Zuse's Calculating Space: Two digital particles A and B form a new digital particle C.[1]

Calculating Space (German: Rechnender Raum) is Konrad Zuse's 1969 book on automata theory. He proposed that all processes in the universe are computational.[2] This view is known today as simulation hypothesis, digital physics or pancomputationalism[3]. Zuse proposed that the universe is being computed by some sort of cellular automaton or other discrete computing machinery,[2] challenging the long-held view that some physical laws are continuous by nature. He focused on cellular automata as a possible substrate of the computation, and pointed out that the classical notions of entropy and its growth do not make sense in deterministically computed universes. Zuse's thesis was later expanded by German computer scientist Jürgen Schmidhuber in his book Algorithimic Theories of Everything.[4]

Bell's theorem is sometimes thought to contradict Zuse's hypothesis, but it is not applicable to deterministic universes, as Bell himself pointed out. Similarly, while Heisenberg's uncertainty principle limits in a fundamental way what an observer can observe, when the observer is himself a part of the universe he is trying to observe, that principle does not rule out Zuse's hypothesis, which views any observer as a part of the hypothesized deterministic process. So far there is no unambiguous physical evidence against the possibility that "everything is just a computation," and a great deal has been written about digital physics since Zuse's book appeared.

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  1. ^ Rechnender Raum (PDF document), Elektronische Datenverarbeitung, 8: 336–344, 1967.
  2. ^ a b Mainzer, Klaus; Chua, Leon (September 2011). The Universe as Automaton: From Simplicity and Symmetry to Complexity. Springer. p. 6.
  3. ^ Müller, Vincent. "Pancomputationalism: Theory or Metaphor?". Philosophy, computing and information science: 213–221.
  4. ^ Schmidhuber, Jürgen Schmidhuber. Algorithimic Theories of Everything (PDF).

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