Is every computable function the time complexity of some function?

Considering the recent question "Is there an algorithm whose time complexity is between polynomial time and exponential time?", some commenters observed that merely providing a function with growth strictly between polynomial and exponential answers the question, because it is easy to construct an algorithm with the required complexity. For example, if you chose $$f(n) = 2^{\sqrt{n}}$$, then the following algorithm has complexity $$O(f(n))$$:

1. Compute $$x = 2^{\sqrt{n}}$$.
2. Increment an integer variable until you reach $$x$$.

Sounds easy - but for many functions step 1 takes longer than step 2. For example, let $$f(n)$$ be the value of $$A(n, n)$$ mod 37. Assuming that this requires actually computing $$A(n, n)$$ (and there is not some theorem like "$$A(n, n)$$ is always divisible by $$37$$") then the procedure above will not produce an algorithm with the required complexity.

Of course, since this $$f$$ is $$O(1)$$, it's easy to construct an algorithm with the required complexity. But it's conceivable that there is some slow-growing hard-to-compute function which does not have the same "cheat".

My intuition, however, is that there is a cleverer technique that will always work. Is there?

• (It should not be too hard to construct a procedure to fit. An *algorithm' is defined as a solution to a problem. Non-monotone functions may be less useful.) Dec 30 '21 at 16:17
• – D.W.
Dec 30 '21 at 19:17