How-Possibly Explanations in (Quantum) Computer Science

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Philosophy of Science, ISSN: 0031-8248, Vol: 82, Issue: 5, Page: 737-748

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Michael E. Cuffaro
University of Chicago Press
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A primary goal of quantum computer science is to find an explanation for the fact that quantum computers are more powerful than classical computers. In this paper I argue that to answer this question is to compare algorithmic processes of various kinds, and in so doing to describe the possibility spaces associated with these processes. By doing this we explain how it is possible for one process to outperform its rival. Further, in this and similar examples little is gained in subsequently asking a how-actually question. Once one has explained how-possibly there is little left to do.

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