A Turing Machine is a theoretical computer designed by Alan Turing in
the 1930's. It consists of an infinite amount of storage space
(memory), the ability to access this memory and carry out any
computational algorithm. An algorithm being the finite number of
steps needed to solve a problem. An example of an algorithm is the
quadratic formula or a cooking recipe. There is also the universal
Turing Machine. The Church-Turing Thesis states that for every
algorithm there is a Turing Machine capable of carrying it out.
Turing then goes on to say the there is a single Universal Turing
Machine which comprises all these Turing Machines and is therefore
capable of computing any algorithm.
These Turing Machines are theoretical. The nearest people have been
able to get to them is finite state machines. The difference between
these and Turing Machines is that Turing Machines have an infinite
amount of memory while in reality that is not possible so the finite
state machines only have a finite amount of memory storage.
The nearest thing known like a Turing Machine is the human brain,
when doing a quadratic equation most people will use some algorithm,
this algorithm can be translated so a computer can follow it thus
proving it can do what a person can do, and therefore its relevence
to cognitive psychologists.
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