Sat
Jun 23 2012 10:00am

For Alan Turing’s Birthday: A LEGO Turing Machine

Today is the 100th birthday of the late Alan Turing, famed mathematician and computer scientist responsible for most concepts relating to algorithms and computations. Turing invented the “Turing Machine” an experiment in intelligent machinery which helped to define and enhance computer evolution.

In honor of him and his achievements, the CWI (Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica) in the Netherlands, built this Turing Machine out of LEGOs. Watch the video below for more.

6 comments
Megaduck
3. Megaduck
Ok, will one of you smart people out on this series of tubes explain to me how the machine gets 2+2=4?

I get the position of the switches means 2 and another position of the switches means 2, I'm just not sure how it gets to the 4.
Megaduck
4. politeruin
Don't forget the google doodle which is also a turing machine.
Alan Courchene
5. Majicou
@3:
http://www.mind.ilstu.edu/curriculum/turing_machines/turing_machine_overview.php

I was going to complain that the machine lacks the ideal Turing machine's infinitely long tape, but of course, Legos are expensive. Oh, and the finite amount of matter in the universe. Whatever.
Steven Halter
8. stevenhalter
@3:They have a stored program (in the Lego CPU) that instructs the TM on how to add the two numbers. This is one variation of a TM. Basically, it would be telling the machine what to do when it reads a particular switch position on the tape (move forward, flip a lego switch, goto a new instruction, etc.).
The TM was created by Turing as a useful mechainism in his proof that Hilbert's Entscheidungsproblem had a negative answer--that there did not exist an algorithm for computing the the truth or falsity of any mathematical statement within a formal system.
Turing's original paper is really quite fascinating. You can read it here.

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