Foreword: A Computable Universe, Understanding Computation and Exploring Nature As Computation

05/25/2012 ∙ by Roger Penrose, et al. ∙ 0

I am most honoured to have the privilege to present the Foreword to this fascinating and wonderfully varied collection of contributions, concerning the nature of computation and of its deep connection with the operation of those basic laws, known or yet unknown, governing the universe in which we live. Fundamentally deep questions are indeed being grappled with here, and the fact that we find so many different viewpoints is something to be expected, since, in truth, we know little about the foundational nature and origins of these basic laws, despite the immense precision that we so often find revealed in them. Accordingly, it is not surprising that within the viewpoints expressed here is some unabashed speculation, occasionally bordering on just partially justified guesswork, while elsewhere we find a good deal of precise reasoning, some in the form of rigorous mathematical theorems. Both of these are as should be, for without some inspired guesswork we cannot have new ideas as to where look in order to make genuinely new progress, and without precise mathematical reasoning, no less than in precise observation, we cannot know when we are right – or, more usually, when we are wrong.

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