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Thursday, May 12, 2016

Will this Computer Stop?

Fascinating experiment underway at MIT that addresses the deep math behind every computer. I remember programming my first simulated Turing machine.  Set off a a deep 'aha' that has left me engaged.

By Jacob Aron in New Scientist:

One hundred and fifty years of mathematics will be proved wrong if a new computer program stops running. Thankfully, it’s unlikely to happen, but the code behind it is testing the limits of the mathematical realm.

The program is a simulated Turing machine, a mathematical model of computation created by codebreaker Alan Turing. In 1936, he showed that the actions of any computer algorithm can be mimicked by a simple machine that reads and writes 0s and 1s on an infinitely long tape by working through a set of states, or instructions. The more complex the algorithm, the more states the machine requires.

Now Scott Aaronson and Adam Yedidia of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have created three Turing machines with behaviour that is entwined in deep questions of mathematics. This includes the proof of the 150-year-old Riemann hypothesis – thought to govern the patterns of prime numbers. ... " 

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