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Possible Meanings of `can' for a Computer Program

A computer program can readily be given much more powerful means of introspection than a person has, for we may make it inspect the whole of its memory including program and data to answer certain introspective questions, and it can even simulate (slowly) what it would do with given initial data. It is interesting to list various notions of tex2html_wrap_inline1047 for a program.

1. There is a sub-program tex2html_wrap_inline831 and room for it in memory which would achieve tex2html_wrap_inline419 if it were in memory, and control were transferred to tex2html_wrap_inline831 . No assertion is made that Program knows tex2html_wrap_inline831 or even knows that tex2html_wrap_inline831 exists.

2. tex2html_wrap_inline831 exists as above and that tex2html_wrap_inline831 will achieve tex2html_wrap_inline419 follows from information in memory according to a proof that Program is capable of checking.

3. Program's standard problem-solving procedure will find tex2html_wrap_inline831 if achieving tex2html_wrap_inline419 is ever accepted as a subgoal.

John McCarthy
Mon Apr 29 19:20:41 PDT 1996