The Turing Machine: A Brief Introduction


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The Importance of Alan Turing’s Machine

Alan Turing Photograph at Kings College: Image by maebmij

At first, the Turing machine’s main contribution was that it provided an “easily understood” alternative to Church’s Lambda calculus, specifically to set theory and to recursive functions. All of these approaches were important in re-establishing the foundations of mathematics early in the 20th century. The Church-Turing thesis, in particular, was very significant for resolving Hilbert’s “decision problem.”

Today’s Turing Machine

Alan Turing’s theories are still valid and in use today.  Recognizing the value of Alan Turing’s contributions to the field of Science is not limited to mathematicians and computer programmers, however: An exhibit in the 2012 Kinetica Art Fair in London, England honored Alan Turing’s contributions to mathematics, computing, and his creation of the Enigma decryption machine of World War II with artistic creations and visualizations of his theories.


Scott, K. A Time Machine and Homage to Turing at This Year’s Kinetica Art Fair. (2012). Wired. Accessed February 21, 2012.

Barker-Plummer, D. Turing Machines. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2011 Edition). Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Accessed February 21, 2012.

Weisstein, E. W. Turing Machine. (2012). MathWorld-A Wolfram Web Resource. Accessed February 21, 2012.

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