The Turing machine is a hypothetical device that represents an ideal machine that can perform mathematical operations, without being burdened by any side functions it needs to do. It was proposed in 1936 by Alan M. Turing, who was an English mathematician.
When Turing introduced this idea, it was imagined as a tool that could always recognize propositions that are undecidable. An undecidable proposition, in mathematics, is a type of statement that we can not prove is either true or false.
The Turing machine, in essence, showed how a machine that could decide if a proposition is undecidable or not, is not possible. However, the logical structure behind the Turing machine proved to be much more valuable in other ways.
A Perfect Machine
If you imagine it, the concept behind the Turing machine insists on a device or a method if you wish, that reduces the logic used for calculating to a bare minimum. This means that the calculations and operations the machine completes come fast because the answers it can choose from are not infinite. The Turing machine, simply speaking, knows the right answer at any given moment, because it can focus quickly on only one solution.
This machine was imagined having a tape that could infinitely extend, and a tape head, that could perform different operations on the tape itself. The tape head can read, write or erase anything on the tape, which is divided into squares - some blank, and some with symbols. The output, or the result, is given once the machine stops.
Influencing Modern Computers
The Turing machine, and the logical architecture behind it, is a base from which all the modern computers are made. The world of digital computing, or if you want - this whole age of digital technology, has Turing to thank for imagining and creating the features we use today. This concept is responsible for creating several vital issues that are in the center of computer science.
First of all, it raises the question of what is computation/calculation in the first place, and how it can be improved. Secondly, it insists on creating a functional algorithm, a key feature of any computation device.
One thing that puts Turing high up in order when we talk about people who influenced the creation of a modern computer is the fact that he worked on a device known as the Bombe. This is one of the most famous machines in history, and it was used to break the Enigma code, which the Germans used in World War II over their military radio broadcasts. This project later inspired the creation of ACE, meaning Automatic Computing Machine, which was, in a way, the Turing’s machine coming to life.
In recent years, the model of a Turing machine has been the concept everyone looks back to when it comes to data processing. The concept of the Turing machine is also an influential force in other disciplines that deal with computer science on a theoretical level. Computational complexity theory, minimal and high-order computability, and algorithmic information theory - all take Turing’s propositions into account.
What is a Turing machine?
The Turing machine is a hypothetical device that represents an ideal machine that can perform mathematical operations, without being burdened by any side functions it needs to do.
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