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Alan M. Turing, Second Edition by Lyn Irvine, John F. Turing, Sara Turing

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14

Computing Machinery

The World of Mathematics,1 referred to in Part I, contains an article entitled “The General and Logical Theory of Automata” by John von Neumann which gives the ensuing synopsis (vol. 4, pp. 2093–2095) of Alan’s Theory of Computing Automata:

The English logician, Turing, about twelve years ago attacked the following problem. He wanted to give a general definition of what is meant by a computing automaton. The formal definition came out as follows:

An automaton is a ‘black box’ which will not be described in detail but is expected to have the following attributes. It possesses a finite number of states, which need to be prima facie characterised only by stating their number, say n, and by enumerating them accordingly: ...

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