The duality of time and information

  • Vaughan R. Pratt
Conference paper
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 630)


The states of a computing system bear information and change time, while its events bear time and change information. We develop a primitive algebraic model of this duality of time and information for rigid local computation, or straightline code, in the absence of choice and concurrency, where time and information are linearly ordered. This shows the duality of computation to be more fundamental than the logic of computation for which choice is disjunction and concurrency conjunction.

To accommodate flexible distributed computing systems we then bring in choice and concurrency and pass to partially ordered time and information, the formal basis for this extension being Birkhoff-Stone dualtiy. A degree of freedom in how this is done permits a perfectly symmetric logic of computation amounting to Girard 's full linear logic, which we view as the natural logic of computation when equal importance is attached to choice and concurrency.

We conclude with an assessment of the prospects for extending the duality to other organizations of time and information besides partial orders in order to accommodate real time, nonmonotonic logic, and automata that can forget, and speculate on the philosophical significance of the duality.


State Space Distributive Lattice Event Space Linear Logic Finite Chain 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vaughan R. Pratt
    • 1
  1. 1.Stanford UniversityUSA

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