Math in Computing

Modern Computers and Mathematics

What was the Turing machine?

In 1937, while working at Cambridge University, English mathematician Alan Mathison Turing (1912–1954) proposed the idea of a universal machine that could perform mathematical operations and solve equations. This machine would use a combination of symbolic logic, numerical analysis, electrical engineering, and a mechanical version of human thought processes.

His idea became known as the Turing machine, a simple computer that performed one small, deterministic step at a time. It is often thought of as the precursor to the modern electronic digital computer, and its principles have been used for application in the study of artificial intelligence, the structure of languages, and pattern recognition. (For more on Alan Turing, see “History of Mathematics.”)


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