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Theory of Computation, Essay Example

Pages: 2

Words: 618

Essay

Q1 | The Turing machine was designed by Allan Turing in 1936. It was the first real attempt at an automated machine.  This was not a computer as such but more a computational machine.  The machine functioned by the manipulation of different symbols on a strip of tape. It was an advanced concept because it emulated a computer in the sense that it simulated the logical process of a computer by explaining what the algorithmic functions were.   Turing described the machine in a later publication as a logical computing machine.

Allan Turing was interested in the concept of intelligence and whether machines could be made to think.  His early computational devices were the first step on the ladder towards the development of the electronic computer.  Turing will perhaps be most well-known for work during WW2 and his invention of the ‘bombe’ a device that was instrumental in breaking the code developed by the German Enigma machine.

The significance of the Universal Turing machine was extremely important in computer science because of the important treatment in the interpretation and instruction of algorithms. The concept of moving these into a mechanical process.  It is similar to the modern day computer in the most simplistic form. Essentially a single machine performing algorithmic or mathematical tasks by a single program.

Turing entered Princeton University as a graduate scientist and spent a great deal of his work studying mathematics and cyphers.  He used electromagnetic relays in order to create binary numbers. It was this interest that led him to role at Bletchley Park in WW2 and the use of computational devices in the deciphering of German codes.

Q2 | The human brain is considered to be an algorithmic device.  Turing machine was a simple kind of computer. The significance is that part of our brain could be mapped to a machine or computer.  This paves the way for what we now term as Artificial Intelligence (AI).  One of the early arguments for full blown development of AI is that the brain contains states which have patterns that cannot be measured or expressed in mathematical terms.  As such it would not provide the algorithms considered necessary for the Turing machine. What we really must credit Turin for is bringing us a closer step towards mapping the functionalities of the brain.

Another important fact is that the brain process information in parallel whereas the Turin machine is a serial processing device. In order to convert the Turing machine to that of a parallel one  you would have to create a significantly larger portion of states. Modern day technology ultimately achieved this objective so we can credit Turin with paving the way towards the more sophisticated machines that we have today.  The great mystery however resides within the concept of the human mind and the interpretation of consciousness.  In the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Expert Systems we are still at a very early level of understanding.

There are also a lot of ethical consideration in the creation of Artificial Intelligence.  If we can readily replace humans with artificial life forms are we not in great danger of losing our humanity.  Machines may be designed to live longer than man, outperform man and ultimately replace him in many functions. This creates a Master / Servant relationship with the artificial life form but make take away the need to overcome problems and challenges which are at the essence of humanity and purpose for existence. Regardless the future will see Turing’s contribution as a founder of computer science.

References

Hofstadter, D. Alan Turing: Life and Legacy of a Great Thinker. New York: Springer, 2006.

Kuro5Hin. Is the Brain Equivalent to a Turing Machine? 2003. http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/3/15/15956/6995. 17 11 2012.

Singh, Arindamah. Elements of Computation Theory. New York: Springer, , 2009.

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