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Thread: Turing Machine Theory for Humanities student - Help

  1. #1 Turing Machine Theory for Humanities student - Help 
    New Member
    Join Date
    May 2008

    I'm a humanities grad student researching the Turing machine and the theoretical issues which accompany it. My main problem is that whenever and wherever I try to understand the formal reasoning behind things such as the halting problem/entscheidungs problem, diagonalization, or the universal machine, I come up against a wall of jargon which is frankly impenetrable for me.

    I'm very much interested in the specifics behind these things, but I don't know any programing languages and am not well versed in FOPC, and I'm hoping that I will not be forced to learn these languages in order to make an additional progress.

    Could anyone recommend any resources (books, sites, etc.) which make an effort to explain these matters (rigorously and thoroughly) in plain English - or something near plain English. Wikipedia is not sufficient at this point in my research.

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  3. #2  
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Aug 2008

    There are always books or internet resources you can use if you want to learn programming languages, you can also download cut down versions of Microsoft's Visual Basic, Web Developer and C++ programs to practice on.

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  4. #3 Programming? 
    Forum Freshman
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    You don't need to know how to program to know how a Turin Machine works. It's a completely mathematical concept, and isn't anything physical. You say you're a Humanities major, that might be why you have a hard time understanding online postings about a Turin Machine's definition. Depending on what your highest math level in undergrad, will affect your ability to understand the material. And, even then, you still need to know the preceding concepts first.

    That's where all this "jargon" is coming from, it comes from things that a person would assume you already knew when describing a Turin Machine. Otherwise, it'd turn into a course in Theory of Automata and Linguistics.

    If you are a fast learner, however, you won't need to take a course to know how a Turin Machine works. I suggest you look up the following concepts in order:
    • Finite Automata - Deterministic
      Nondeterministic Finite Automata
      The equivalence between deterministic and nondeterministic finite automata
      Regular Languages - proofs associating Regular Languages and Finite Automata
      Regular Expressions - proofs associating Regular Expressions and Finite Automata
      Context-Free Languages
      Context-Free Grammars
      Noam Chomsky's Normal Form
      Pumping Lemma for Context-Free Grammars
      Push-down Automata
      Push-down Automata and their relationship to Context-Free Grammars
      Context-Sensitive Language and Linear Bound Automata

    AND THEN, finally...
    Turin Machines.

    Good luck!
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