Monoidal Computer I: Basic Computability by String Diagrams

Dusko Pavlovic

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We present a new model of computation, described in terms of monoidal categories. It conforms the Church-Turing Thesis, and captures the same computable functions as the standard models. It provides a succinct categorical interface to most of them, free of their diverse implementation details, using the ideas and structures that in the meantime emerged from research in semantics of computation and programming. The salient feature of the language of monoidal categories is that it is supported by a sound and complete graphical formalism, string diagrams, which provide a concrete and intuitive interface for abstract reasoning about computation. The original motivation and the ultimate goal of this effort is to provide a convenient high level programming language for a theory of computational resources, such as one-way functions, and trapdoor functions, by adopting the methods for hiding the low level implementation details that emerged from practice. In the present paper, we make the initial step towards this ambitious goal, and sketch the ideas how to reach it. These ideas will be elaborated in the three sequel papers, that are in preparation.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages38
JournalInformation and Computation
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2013


  • computability
  • monoidal category
  • universal computer
  • Frobenius algebra
  • string diagrams
  • abstract complexity

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