Kathryn Cramer tells Boing Boing:

The Wolfram 2,3 Turing Prize winner was announced this morning: a
20-year old engineering student named Alex Smith who learned about the
contest from a chat room. Link.
The write-up in Nature is here.

Alex Smith, a undergraduate
electrical engineering student at the University of Birmingham in the
United Kingdom, has proven that a primitive type of computer known as
a 2,3 Turing machine can solve every computational problem there is.

And Stephen Wolfram's blog entry on it is here.

Smith's 40-something page proof is here, proving that the Turing
machine is "universal": PDF Link.
There's also a piece in New Scientist which has some nice bio
material on Alex Smith here.

report this ad

The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.

This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]

With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it’s drama you crave, but the Hillary […]

Nothing is more frustrating than needing to edit or sign a PDF and not having access to the original document. That’s why PDFpenPRO is a must-have app in our books.With this extremely useful app, you can merge, markup, and create PDF documents without ever having to convert your PDFs into word processor file formats. Type directly onto […]

From self-driving cars to stock market predicting software to the recommendations you get on Amazon and Netflix, machine learning is at the core of modern technology. You could find yourself building technology that is literally changing the world with the skills you’ll learn in The Complete Machine Learning Bundle. This bundle of 10 courses includes 406 lessons that will teach […]

This Python Mega Course will help you learn to code by teaching you to build 10 real-world apps that each highlight a unique use of Python.Job prospects for coders are still growing steadily—and with Python being one of the most popular coding languages out there today, it’s important for job seekers to demonstrate a widespread understanding of the […]

report this ad

“Wolfram, founder and chief executive of Wolfram Research in Champaign, Illinois, issued the challenge this May to satisfy his own curiosity about how complexity emerges from simple systems. The idea is that a properly applied set of basic rules can create an enormously intricate result. “It’s actually a lot easier to make complexity than one might have thought,” he says. “I find it particularly tantalizing.””

Soooo, given enough time and energy, it might be possible to evolve an enormously complex eco-system from just a few particles? That can’t be right, surely?

Wow, as a college freshman in computer science it’s nice to see something this large being accomplished by someone so young. Congrats Smith!

Perhaps one day there’ll even be practical molecular computers built from this very 2,3 Turing machine. With tapes a bit like RNA strands, and heads moving up and down like ribosomes.This kind of stuff blows my mind. That something so simple can exhibit behavior so complex.

Wolfram’s Blog (once you get through the typical Wolfram evangilism in the first half) has some really interesting points about possible applications of this find.

“When we think of nanoscale computers, we usually imagine carefully engineering them to mimic the architecture of the computers we know today.” … however,

“We don’t have to carefully build things up with engineering. We can just go out and search in the computational universe, and find things like universal computers–that are simple enough that we can imagine making them out of molecules.”

Here’s the link to Wolfram’s whole post:

http://blog.wolfram.com/2007/10/the_prize_is_won_the_simplest.html

What really blows my mind about the Wolfram post (and everything he writes) is the sheer arrogance of the man. Yes, it’s a big accomplishment. But he spends only a fraction of the article acknowledging Smith’s contribution. Mr Wolfram clearly seems more satisfied with himself for “discovering” the machine (via a heuristic search, it seems?) than with the proof, which merely confirms his awesomeness. Even Alan Turing gets little credit for his lame-o, messy version of the universal machine — it’s a shame they put

hisname on it.Maybe I’m just too bitter at other stuff I’ve read from Wolfram, but his style makes my skin crawl. And every time Mathematica ticks me of I curse him under my breath.

Congratulations for a great contribution. I have always hoped that what Alex proved was true. Pythagoras’s Monad lives again!

Hmmmm, regarding life as an example of complexity from simple beginnings – Alex Smith like – would it be (theoretically) possible to build a human brain that was in fact based on a clock work mechaninsm? Or, say, a paralled up Alex-Smith Turing Machine?

Our pride at regarding ourselves as simple machines, could be saved by claiming that stacked up epistemology could in fact be an entity itself. Consider David Deutsch’s visualization of a research institute being built in deep space from the atoms in free space + knowledge. An area the size of our solar system could provide enough atoms. Atoms alone do nothing much except sit in deep space, but with epistemology thrown in – wow, that’s somehow different. Yummy food for thought.