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Article Dans Une Revue Minds and Machines Année : 2023

Computers as interactive machines: Can we build an explanatory abstraction?

Alice Martin
Mathieu Magnaudet
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In this paper, we address the question of what current computers are from the point of view of human-computer interaction. In the early days of computing, the Turing machine (TM) has been the cornerstone of the understanding of computers. The TM defines what can be computed and how computation can be carried out. However, in the last decades, computers have evolved and increasingly become interactive systems, reacting in real-time to external events in an ongoing loop. We argue that the TM does not provide a mechanistic explanation for interactive computing. The reason is that the fundamental phenomena relevant to interactive computing are out of the scope of classical computability theory. Part of the explanatory power of the TM relies on what we propose to call an execution model. An execution model belongs to a level of abstraction where it is possible to describe both the functional architecture and the execution in mechanistic terms. An updated execution model is warranted to provide the minimal mechanistic description for interactive computation as a counterpart of what the TM could explain regarding Church-Turing computation. It would support an explanation of the ubiquitous computing devices we know-those interacting with humans, e.g., through digital interfaces. We show that such a model is not available within interactive models of computation and that relevant abstractions and concerns are available in computer engineering but need to be identified and gathered. To fill this void, we propose to reflect on the level of abstractionrequired to support the mechanistic description of an interactive execution and propose some preliminary requirements.
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Dates et versions

hal-04030798 , version 1 (15-03-2023)



Alice Martin, Mathieu Magnaudet, Stéphane Conversy. Computers as interactive machines: Can we build an explanatory abstraction?. Minds and Machines, 2023, ⟨10.1007/s11023-023-09624-2⟩. ⟨hal-04030798⟩
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