- Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Wiley; 1 edition (June 16, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0470229055
- ISBN-13: 978-0470229057
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 54 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #28,823 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Annotated Turing: A Guided Tour Through Alan Turing's Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine 1st Edition
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From the Back Cover
Before digital computers ever existed, Alan Turing envisioned their power and versatility...but also proved what computers could never do.
In an extraordinary and ultimately tragic life that unfolded like a novel, Turing helped break the German Enigma code to turn the tide of World War II, later speculated on artificial intelligence, fell victim to the homophobic witchhunts of the early 1950s, and committed suicide at the age of 41. Yet Turing is most famous for an eerily prescient 1936 paper in which he invented an imaginary computing machine, explored its capabilities and intrinsic limitations, and established the foundations of modern-day programming and computability.
This absorbing book expands Turing's now legendary 36-page paper with extensive annotations, fascinating historical context, and page-turning glimpses into his private life. From his use of binary numbers to his exploration of concepts that today's programmers will recognize as RISC processing, subroutines, algorithms, and others, Turing foresaw the future and helped to mold it. In our post-Turing world, everything is a Turing Machine — from the most sophisticated computers we can build, to the hardly algorithmic processes of the human mind, to the information-laden universe in which we live.
About the Author
English mathematician Alan Turing (1912–1954) is the author of the 1936 paper "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem" that introduced the imaginary computer called the Turing Machine for understanding the nature and limitations of computing. His famous 1950 article "Computing Machinery and Intelligence" introduced the Turing Test for gauging artificial intelligence.
American writer Charles Petzold (1953–) is the author of the acclaimed 1999 book Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software, a unique exploration into the digital technologies of computers. He is also the author of hundreds of articles about computer programming, as well as several books on writing programs that run under Microsoft Windows. His Web site is www.charlespetzold.com.
Top customer reviews
In some places the approach of annotating the paper paragraph by paragraph works fabulously well - e.g. taking you through Turing's examples step-by-step and pointing out the errors and later elaborations. The digressions into lambda calculus and continuity are also great enhancements to the paper. But sometimes, the need to align comments to particular sections of the paper, leads to some topics getting broken up and makes it more difficult to follow the paper - this is particularly the case in the last part of the paper where Turing turns to the Enscheidungs Problem itself. I'm not certain that Charles Petzold feels totally comfortable with this section either. As a mathematician, I understood what he was trying to say, but I doubt whether someone who hadn't already encountered these ideas would have been able to follow it.
To be fair though, the vast majority of readers will be looking to understand the Universal Turing Machine and the idea of computability. These sections are handled wonderfully with great insight and clarity.
What came as a surprise to me was how many "programming paradigms" Alan Turing managed to anticipate in his simple programs for his Turing Machine and the programs are as exciting to read as any well-written modern source code.
If you are inspired by the big ideas in this book, I strongly recommend that you also look at Douglas Hofstadter's Goedel Escher Bach: An Eternal Braid which covers some of the same ideas from a radically different perspective.
This is one of the best academic non-textbooks I've ever encountered.
Although at times you may start thinking of states as functions, even with the difference in mind, just how far Turing went to describing our programmatic world without ever having laid hands on a real computing machine is amazing...never mind the significant mathematical result.
Highly recommend to anyone wanting a firmer grasp on what computer science is really all about.
Most recent customer reviews
How I wish the author would write a similar book on Shannon's seminal paper "A...Read more