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Turing Tales

A major and rather provocative theme in this book is that many high-profile computer scientists do not consistently distinguish between their favorite mathematical concepts and the representations thereof in the real world. This leads to mistakes. Seemingly small but useful distinctions are introduced and technical corrections are put forth in connection with formal verification, computer viruses, and program transformation systems. Inspection from another angle shows that also mathematics, as it is practiced today, is not free from conceptual flaws. Specifically, several unsound treatments of the function concept are scrutinized and connected to computer science proper.

A second and mostly historiographical topic in the book pertains to the romantic and incorrect idea that "Alan M. Turing invented the modern computer." Contrary to public opinion today, most computer pioneers were not trying to build a practical realization of a universal Turing machine in the 1950s. An exception in this regard is the Dutch computer builder Willem van der Poel, whose story is told here in English for the very first time. Valuable reflections on the history of programming languages and Turing-Award winners round out the historiographical weight of this book.


Book details

Turing Tales
E.G. Daylight, A.C. Fleck, R.T. Boute
Edited by K. De Grave
Paperback, 249+x pages
Published December 2016
ISBN 978-94-91386-06-0

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