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A Framework for Heterotic Computing

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Author(s): Susan Stepney | Viv Kendon | Peter Hines | Angelika Sebald

Journal: Electronic Proceedings in Theoretical Computer Science
ISSN 2075-2180

Volume: 95;
Issue: Proc. QPL 2011;
Start page: 263;
Date: 2012;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Computational devices combining two or more different parts, one controlling the operation of the other, for example, derive their power from the interaction, in addition to the capabilities of the parts. Non-classical computation has tended to consider only single computational models: neural, analog, quantum, chemical, biological, neglecting to account for the contribution from the experimental controls. In this position paper, we propose a framework suitable for analysing combined computational models, from abstract theory to practical programming tools. Focusing on the simplest example of one system controlled by another through a sequence of operations in which only one system is active at a time, the output from one system becomes the input to the other for the next step, and vice versa. We outline the categorical machinery required for handling diverse computational systems in such combinations, with their interactions explicitly accounted for. Drawing on prior work in refinement and retrenchment, we suggest an appropriate framework for developing programming tools from the categorical framework. We place this work in the context of two contrasting concepts of "efficiency": theoretical comparisons to determine the relative computational power do not always reflect the practical comparison of real resources for a finite-sized computational task, especially when the inputs include (approximations of) real numbers. Finally we outline the limitations of our simple model, and identify some of the extensions that will be required to treat more complex interacting computational systems.

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