The Turing Machine and Modern Applications
Hi there! 😄👋
Before we launch into the working of Turing Machines and their modern applications, let’s go right back to where it all began.
Alan Turing was an English mathematician, computer scientist, logician, and cryptoanalyst whose contribution played a significant role in the development of theoretical computer science. In 1936/37, while still a fellow at Cambridge, Turing released a paper with proofs related to the Turing Machine, providing a formalization of the concepts of algorithm and computation.
The purpose of the machine (then named automatic machines) was to prove that there is no effective general method or procedure to solve, calculate or compute every instance of a given problem. The original machine was specifically devised for the computing of real numbers. They were renamed as Turing machines later on by Alonzo Church. Over time, they’ve grown to change their meaning slightly and refer to a more diversified bunch of devices. Before proceeding further, let’s take a look at how we define Turing machines now.
Turing machines are machines that are capable of a finite set of configurations. These simple computational devices helped investigate both the extent and the limitations of what can be computed. Its been widely accepted among computer scientists that Turing’s or any other logically equivalent concept capture all computable problems, i.e. for every computable problem, there exists a Turing Machine that is capable of computing it.
There are two important things to note about the Turing machine setup. The first thing deals with the definition of the machine itself, mostly that the machine’s tape is potentially infinite as this corresponds to an assumption that the memory of the machine is (potentially) infinite. The second one concerns the definition of Turing computable, namely that a function is going to be Turing computable if there exists a group of instructions which will end in a Turing machine computing the function no matter the amount of time that it takes. One can consider this as assuming the supply of probably infinite time to finish the computation.
Coming back to the present practical world, its not hard to agree that computers have been developed to display creativity, implying a lofty level of intelligence Turing dreamed of. There are thousands of technological applications of the concept that was established by the research of Turing machines. Some of the popular applications include visual recognition, machine intelligence, and AI in medicine.
There’s a lot more to talk about when we talk about the implementation and effect of the Turing machine on modern technology but that’s it for today. Perhaps some other day at LetsUpgrade.