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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Cuffaro, Michael E.
University of Chicago Press
Arts and Humanities
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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 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.