Re: Is the universe computable

From: CMR <>
Date: Mon, 26 Jan 2004 13:49:02 -0800

> The problem is that there is a large class of physical systems that
> not "computable" by TMs, i.e., they are "intractable". Did you read the
> Wolfram quote that I included in one of my posts? Please read the entire
> article found here:
> Another way of thinking of this is to concider the Laplacean notion
> where given the specification of the "initial conditions" and/or "final
> conditions" of the universe that all of the kinematics and dynamics of the
> universe would be laid out. The modern incarnation of this is the
> 4D cube model of the universe. Again, these ideas only work for those who
> are willing to completely ignore the facts of computational complexity and
> the Heisenberg Uncertainty principle.

Am I correct that you're essentially saying that our universe is
algorithmically incompressible? If so I would agree and, interestingly, so
does my friend Jim in a parallel thread I sparked from this very thread on
the infophysics list a week or so back; thought I'd post it because he
represents the "hard" info physical view on this subject much better than I

 From: "Jim Whitescarver" <>
Subject: Re: [InfoPhysics] Fw: Is the universe computable

In so far as the universe is logical it can be modeled as a logical
information system. The information nature of the quantum makes such a
model convenient. It seems surprising how closely nature obeys logic
granting validity to science.
If we suppose that it is indeed logical and has no other constraints
outside that logic, we then find it is an incompressible computation, that
cannot be represented with fewer states. The universe is computably as it
is a computer, but only a computer larger than the universe itself could
model it. In this sense, the universe is not technically computable in
practical terms.
Intractability, however, is not exclusive of there existing good
solutions. Unknowability is inherent in complex systems and we can
capitalize on the the uniformity of the unknowable in the world of the
Consider a pure entropy source, e.g. a stationary uncharged black hole.
It effective eats all the information that falls in irretrievably
randomizing it into the distant future. It is not that systems falling in
stop behaving determistically, it is that we no longer care what their
state is effectively randomized and outside our window of observation.
Nothing in our world covaries with what happens inside the black hole but
we know that there would be correlations due to the determinism that
exists independently on the inside and the outside.
I am not saying we can compute all of this. What happens at any point is
the result of the entire universe acting at that point at this instant.
Clearly this is not knowable. Causes are clearly not locally
But we can represent the black hole as a single integer, its mass in Plank
action equivalents. From this all it's relevant properties to our
perspective are known in spite of however complex it is internally.
All participants, modeled as information systems, are entropy sources like
black holes, but we get samplings of their internal state suggesting a
finite state nature and deterministic behavior. The distinction is
whether we can determine what that deterministic systems is or not. We
cannot without communicating with all the participants and that is not
always possible.
But given a set of perspectives, there is no limit to how closely we can
model them. Where no model works randomness may be substituted and often
we will get good, if not perfect, results.
Even legacy quantum mechanics, misguidedly based on randomness, yields
deterministic results for quantum interactions shown accurate to many
dozens of decimal places. This suggests that simple deterministic models
will most likely be found.
Received on Mon Jan 26 2004 - 19:35:27 PST

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.3.0 : Fri Feb 16 2018 - 13:20:09 PST