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The Annotated Turing: A Guided Tour Through Alan Turing's Historic Paper on Computability and the Turing Machine

4.15  ·  Rating Details  ·  447 Ratings  ·  29 Reviews
Programming Legend Charles Petzold unlocks the secrets of the extraordinary and prescient 1936 paper by Alan M. TuringMathematician Alan Turing invented an imaginary computer known as the Turing Machine; in an age before computers, he explored the concept of what it meant to be "computable," creating the field of computability theory in the process, a foundation of present ...more
Paperback, 372 pages
Published June 1st 2008 by John Wiley & Sons
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,413)
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Deirdre
Feb 01, 2009 Deirdre rated it it was amazing
Wouldn't you like to know the outcome of your actions before you decide what to do? Looking into the future, you could see if biting that apple was a good idea or something completely different and unexpected.

However, there's no way through it but to do it.

Well mathematicians and computer programmers have the same problem. British mathematician, Alan Turing, proved that there is no way a computer can be designed with the correct set of instructions (program) so as to be able to determine if any
...more
Nick Black
Nov 14, 2008 Nick Black rated it liked it
Amazon 2008-10-24. This book needed to decide earlier on whether it was going to be pop-CS or a real book. There's some great insights here -- I finally feel that I truly know the difference now, in a deep sense, of what makes a given transcendental number computable or not (there's unfortunately rather little detail on computable functions themselves, but that's an easy extension from computable numbers). Kudos to Petzold for his fine background material on Hilbert's erweiterte Funktionenkalkul ...more
Stuart
Nov 22, 2015 Stuart rated it it was amazing
This is one of those books that is so deep that I doubt anyone can read it cover to cover without having to go back and puzzle over the contents of some of the chapters. It is intended as a commentary on Turing's paper which, in some ways, due to the notation Turing uses, is more difficult to understand than it needs to be. Petzold plows through this giving several lines of commentary and examples to each line of Turing's paper.

Petzold demonstrates his knowledge of computing and mathematics and
...more
Mengsen Zhang
Jun 25, 2015 Mengsen Zhang rated it really liked it
Recommended to Mengsen by: Roadzhang
Nice book! If you think this book is just an annotated version of Turing's paper on Computable numbers & Entscheidungsproblem, you're probably gonna be frustrated to see a paper of 30-ish pages has been stretched out into over 300 pages. However, it's more like that you traveled back in time to visit Turing and he (and his machine) introduced you to the most beautiful intellectual epics surrounding those decades. The dreams and dramas about numbers haunt human thoughts forever, at least sinc ...more
Mark
Aug 18, 2016 Mark rated it it was amazing
Shelves: software
This book reprints Alan Turing's 1936 scientific paper On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, with 'a bit' of commentary.

The paper is 36 pages, so the remaining 300+ pages are Charles Petzold's explanation of the paper. The book starts with explaining the (mathematical) context of the paper: what had come before, which problem it addressed, and some important mathematical tools and results required to understand the paper.

The paper itself is terse and dense, so e
...more
Soh Kam Yung
Dec 30, 2013 Soh Kam Yung rated it really liked it
An impressive book that gives you an annotated guide through Turing's historic paper on computation. It starts with a background in mathematics and number theory, defining various concepts that are required to understand the paper.

Next, the author covers probably the part that most interest me: Turing machines. Turing shows how such machines can be used to perform computation and, in an impressive series of steps, shows how a Universal machine can be used to execute the operations of any Turing
...more
Shital
Sep 26, 2009 Shital rated it it was amazing
It was about 10 years ago when I first found Turing's original paper on Internet and thought it wouldn't be so hard to read and understand it (after all its "mere" computer science). Since then I've tried to digest it quite a few times on and off and never actually succeeded. Infect most of the time I got stuck on few nitty-gritty and just couldn't move forward. I have even bought/borrowed almost all books on the subject that falls in to "popular science" types. Needless to say, like many such b ...more
Dale
Oct 20, 2008 Dale rated it it was amazing
This is a wonderful book. Petzold does a line by line exegesis of Turing's 1936 paper on computability, explaining the historical and mathematical background, and showing illustrative examples. The book is probably most interesting to computer programmers, but would also be of interest to anyone interested in mathematics or the history of computer technology. Having attempted to read Turing's paper several years ago, I found that this book really closed my gaps in understanding.
Zach
Apr 30, 2015 Zach rated it liked it
Very useful for making it through Turing's famous (and dense) paper. Petzold sets the context for the paper and draws out its implications for thought. Turing invented the Turing machine on his way to showing that there is no general decision procedure for determining the logical validity of a statement. You may not care about all the math needed to get to this point, but it's there if you want it.
Peter Aronson
May 21, 2016 Peter Aronson rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading this book (if a process involving quite so much effort can be described so simply as "reading"), but I cheerfully admit it is hardly for everyone! I had been exposed to the Halting Problem (which is derived from but, different than, the problem addressed in Turing's paper) in class 38 years ago, and was glad for a chance to more fully understand the subject area. Petzold's book is an excellent approach to the material, with background, math review, history, errata and ex ...more
Calvin Yuan
Jul 21, 2016 Calvin Yuan rated it it was amazing
Picked this book right after taking a class on computability and complexity at my Uni. Frankly, this is a book that needs one to peruse and to flip from the front to the back and from the back to the front more than once to truly understand the concepts that Turing has when he first proposed the notion of computable numbers.

Some people might find it tedious to go through the exotic mathematical symbols and machine configurations line by line. However, when you think of the significance of Turin
...more
Jeff
Feb 09, 2011 Jeff rated it it was amazing
outstanding refresher on how math theory lead to computing. makes the seminal turing paper understandable.
Jef
Sep 07, 2009 Jef rated it really liked it
Shelves: multnomah
This book turns Turing's rather terse paper into a great introduction to computable real numbers.
Lisa
Jan 31, 2015 Lisa rated it liked it
I was reminded that I prefer to learn the stories behind mathematicians more then I like to try to understand the math. Parts of this were a walk down memory lane such as the parts quoted from The Enigma by Hodge which I enjoyed. I also enjoyed the discussion on what it meant and the discussion on how Turing's ideas are still being used in ideas on how the mind and the universe work. As far as the math explanations were concerned I think the author did a good job going step by step explaining th ...more
David
May 23, 2011 David rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2011
This book has a 10:1 ratio of annotations to Turing's original paper. That's a considerable increase. But there's no wasted space here. The biography of Alan Turing is very short. Only the bare minimum of each mathematical subject is explained (Diophantine equations, number theory, sets, lambda calculus). In short, Petzold added just the right amount of notes for a non-mathematician like myself to actually understand every single word of Turning's original 36 page paper.

It seems that I am practi
...more
David
Oct 12, 2009 David rated it liked it
In this book, Charles Petzold guides the reader through Alan Turing's famous paper on computability, which introduced the world to what is now known as the "Turing machine".

Along the way, in this pleasantly written book, the author places the paper in a historical setting, which in part extends back to the Greek mathematician Diophantus, and provides numerous insights into the development of ideas that led up to Turing's paper, as well as numerous anecdotes of Turing's brief career. Turing's ca
...more
ila
Apr 18, 2014 ila rated it really liked it
The Annotated Turing una lettura piuttosto difficile per via di una certa complessit "matematica" di una intera sezione del libro: per lo stesso una lettura affascinante per come riesce a guidare il lettore all'interno di una serie di discussioni lunghe diversi decenni legate anche al mondo dell'informatica. Lo consiglio se vi interessa la materia. ...more
Amar Pai
Sep 27, 2010 Amar Pai rated it liked it
I was interested to learn that the term "Halting Problem" does not actually appear in Turing's paper.

Indeed, his definition of "computable" applied to numbers is sort of the opposite: a computable number is a number that can be expressed as the output of a program that never stops printing digits (i.e. pi is computable because you can write a Turing number representing a program that prints 3.1415... etc to an arbitrary # degrees precision.) By this definition all real numbers are computable. (
...more
to'c
Jul 14, 2013 to'c rated it it was amazing
An excellent book and a compelling read. Primarily, obvious from the title, a deep dive into Turing's seminal paper the book goes far afield onto the maths necessary to understand the problem and beyond. So, while no previous technical or mathematical knowledge is strictly required the books will mainly appeal to those of that mindset.

Except for the penultimate chapter, "Is Everything A Turing Machine?" Petzold takes us through a tour of mathematical and philosophical history eventually conflat
...more
Matthew Haney
May 25, 2011 Matthew Haney rated it liked it
I absolutely love this book, but a lot of the logic and notation that is used by Turing is difficult to comprehend, particularly towards the end. Even the authors explanations don't help too greatly, and his "simplified" computations are just as complicated as Turing's.

I'd recommend it to anyone who (like me) is interested in trying to program a Turing machine or (not like me) is VERY well-versed and interested in logic and computational analysis. Otherwise, this book will take you a year to rea
...more
John
Jun 15, 2013 John rated it it was amazing
This book is exactly what it says it is, a very well annotated version of the paper where Alan Turing introduced the machine that bears his name and sketched the limits of computing. The full text of the paper is included, set apart from the explanations and background research by a shaded background. The explanations are detailed and clear. The historical background information is relevant and interesting. In under 400 pages the reader is led to understanding one of the most important academic ...more
pluton
Feb 23, 2016 pluton rated it really liked it
Shelves: kcls
This is a good book explaining the Turing's paper on computability and decision problem, required background and related topics. I had to read diagonally coming to the end, because math in the paper became too dense (and abstract) for me. The paper itself is certainly very valuable, but reading it requires lots of math skills, even with the book.
"The future doesn't exist until the program runs the code."
Rik Eberhardt
Nov 19, 2010 Rik Eberhardt rated it really liked it
Shelves: math-computing
So far (7 Dec 02008) I've finished the introduction and have started in on the meat - Turing's paper itself. The first few chapters were great - basically, a quick recap of algebra and set theory. I'll update once I finish - I kinda got sidetracked into reading Cryptonomicon (I've owned it since 01999 but never got around to reading it).
Ovidiu Neatu
Aug 23, 2015 Ovidiu Neatu rated it it was amazing
Turing's paper on Entscheidungsproblem is hard from the beginning and gets harder to understand as you go through it. I didn't understood the last sections of the paper(too much math formalism) but overall Petzold did manage to keep me on track.
Adam
Feb 20, 2016 Adam rated it liked it
If you wanna know more about why computers can compute only what they can compute and can't compute what they can't and why and you're into reading technical stuff on what computability even is, give this a read. It's pretty dense.
Jason Dew
Jul 06, 2011 Jason Dew rated it really liked it
Shelves: wishlist
Very good book on Turing's famous paper but my favorite part was the ancillary coverage of mathematicians and computer scientists that were influenced by the Turing machine.
croson
Sep 15, 2014 croson rated it liked it
Entscheidungsproblem!!! gave up half way through, but i still think i might have learned a little bit. Petzold's other book "Code" is my favorite computer book.
gargamelscat
Jul 11, 2010 gargamelscat rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2010, compsci
A fantastic exposition of a crucially important though relatively obscure fundamental of computer science.


Jean-Luc
Sep 09, 2008 Jean-Luc rated it it was amazing
A must read for every computer scientist.
Morgan
Morgan marked it as to-read
Aug 24, 2016
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