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Turing's Vision: The Birth of Computer Science

4.27  ·  Rating details ·  230 ratings  ·  40 reviews
In 1936, when he was just twenty-four years old, Alan Turing wrote a remarkable paper in which he outlined the theory of computation, laying out the ideas that underlie all modern computers. This groundbreaking and powerful theory now forms the basis of computer science. In Turing's Vision, Chris Bernhardt explains the theory, Turing's most important contribution, for the ...more
Hardcover, 208 pages
Published May 13th 2016 by MIT Press
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Michael Burnam-Fink
Sep 30, 2022 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2022, data-science
I love Gödel, Escher, Bach, but GEB is over 800 discursive pages. Turing's Vision is a short translate of Turing's key paper "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem". Turing paper conclusively proved a key result in mathematics, that some questions cannot be answered "yes" or "no", but will drift in infinite indeterminability. And second, his model of a simple machine with states and an infinite memory provided a conceptual design for the first universal computers ...more
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This book breaks down Turing's approach to computation, and in doing so gives a glimpse into what "universal computers" really are. I believe this book should be required reading in any high-school math class, anyone who is wondering if computer science is right for them, of anyone wondering why some problems are easy for computers while others are hard. This is written for a regular person, not a computer scientist. There's a bit of logical reasoning and even some counting! in the book, but not ...more
Dec 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Damn this book was good. I wish I read it while I took Introduction to Complexity Theory in college. Bernhardt explains some pretty challenging concepts in a very digestible way. On top of that, Bernhardt gives a great history lesson and helps you appreciate why these seemingly esoteric ideas are so important so impactful
Igor Sedlár
Feb 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent short and mostly informal introduction to the theory if computation and related topics, with some historical background material. Highly recommended to students but an interesting read for specialists as well. The text was not edited carefully, though, as it contains a number of typos, double words or superfluous words.
Sep 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“We shall do a much better programming job, provided we approach the task with a full appreciation of its tremendous difficulty, provided that we respect the intrinsic limitations of the human mind and approach the task as very humble programmers.” - Alan Turing
Apr 10, 2022 rated it it was ok
Oof. My 2 star rating should not necessarily be regarded as me saying that this book is “bad”… just not what I was expecting. I had hoped for a more broader, general-interest and abstract overview of the concepts, rather than such nitty gritty details. I’m grateful that the world is populated with those who find such dry and demanding thought enjoyable, because it has changed life as we know it dramatically, but for me finishing this book was a matter of stubbornness, an exercise in self-discipl ...more
Khan Ashraf  Alif
Feb 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
Unnecessarily sophisticated
Jess Sohn
Jan 13, 2017 rated it liked it
I failed this book. Despite my sincere interest in math, logic, and Turing, I was not able to get the most out of Bernhardt's deftly written explanation of Turing's all important thesis. I am not ashamed to say that a smarter person or a more dedicated reader than myself, particularly in the field of math or logic or computer science, will probably fly through this. I have great respect for Bernhardt's commitment to translating this dense subject for a person who is unfamiliar with the field. Ho ...more
Allan Olley
Jan 24, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an interesting introduction to some of the key mathematical work of Alan Turing (mostly his 1936 results on Computable Numbers and Turing Machines) relating it to both contemporary developments in logic (the lambda calculus) and later developments in computer science and related ideas like finite automata. The book is thus mostly an introduction to mathematical and computer science concepts but serves to give them some intellectual context also and even a little bit of social context for ...more
D. Rogers
Mar 27, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Bernhardt provides a brilliant overview of Alan Turing's most groundbreaking contributions. The only prerequisites for this read are reasoning skills and familiarity with mathematical notation (if you know '>' is the greater-than sign and that {a,b,c} is a set, you're golden). The book gradually builds on itself, starting with logic and ending with the core ideas of Turing's revered paper.

A clear explanation of the overall goals of early 20th century mathematicians is provided as well. So, by th
Miguel Vilá
Oct 23, 2022 rated it it was amazing
This is really a cool book about theoretical computer science! Recommended to anyone who wants to learn about theory of computation without going through an in-depth course.

This is a slightly technical book, so you need to have some basic maths if you want to make the most out of it. The book goes into a number of proofs, some of them by contradiction. Basic logic and set theory might be enough to understand this book.

Some of the interesting topics treated in this book are:

- What are the connect
Oct 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Excellent primer for curious people, who do not have a technical background, to know about who Alan Turing was and what his contribution was to the modern technical landscape. We owe a great debt to his genius for inventing the "theoretical computers" which he called the "universal machines" which started the genesis of all modern computing devices; almost every gadget in sight, our computers, phones and other digital systems.

Most people know Alan Turing as the code-breaker, who shorted the WWII
Nov 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
Bernhardt does an admirable job of demonstrating and explaining the huge contributions Alan Turing made to both mathematics (especially set and number theory) and the foundation of what we now call computer science. The math and logic are not particularly “difficult” to understand, but I hadn’t encountered much of the notation (sets especially) and thinking (mathematical proofs) since high school math class. The implications of Turing’s logical mathematical arguments are stunning, especially as ...more
Nov 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
Wow I wish I had this book when I took my Theory of Computation course. My prior experience made the content easier to follow, but there is a considerable amount of auxiliary information which is sometimes difficult to distinguish from the essential information.
The author seems to propose as his thesis that he will be explaining Turing's ground breaking paper, providing all the necessary background information (and more). With the side-topics and the cumulative nature of the background informat
Nov 07, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Bernhardt did a great job of providing a great overview of computational theory, specifically the vast influence that Turing had on the field. I particularly enjoyed the way certain proofs were explained using easy to understand examples, before the official proof was introduced. I also enjoyed the asides throughout the whole book.

That being said, I do have a CS background, and do not think I would have been able as nicely without it. But given the difficulty of the topic, Bernhardt does a fanta
Shozab Qasim
Jul 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book will give immense pleasure to anyone interested in the field of Theoretical Computer Science. With a brief introduction with regards to the works of mathematical logic by Russell, Hilbert and Godel, then moving on to topics such as finite automata, Turing machines, undecidable problems and finally countable numbers, this book provides a remarkable introduction to the methods employed by Turing to answer the question of the Entscheidungsproblem.
Jul 27, 2022 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book :) If you want to understand the theory surrounding the origin of computers, this book is ideal.

Since it covers some complicated topics, more advanced math skills are necessary. However, the author explains everything in an accessible way, so with a little patience it is possible to understand even the most difficult concepts.

(This is not a biography).
Peter Corke
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I knew a lot of the Bletchley history and had read the imitation game paper, but never read the computable numbers paper. This book covers that in a very accessible way for a non computer scientist. Turing machines, encodings and the halting problem.
Tom Zollo
Mar 23, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This seems to be a very underrated book. Besides Godel Escher Bach, this book gave me more insight into what computing really is than any other I've come across, and I'd strongly suggest it to anyone entering the field. ...more
haoyu Yang
Aug 29, 2022 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: cs
This book talks about Turing's contribution to theoretical computing fundamentals. It is a bit technical but fun. The idea of the Turing machine really enlightened the development of modern computers. ...more
Shawn  Aebi
Jul 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Much of the book is unreadable for someone without an advanced degree. The historical anecdotes are sporadically interspersed and helpful but the magnitude of Turing's impact is not truly felt. ...more
Kadir Korkmaz
Dec 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alon Cohen
Mar 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Superb. A fabulous introduction to Theory of Computation. As Turing elegantly laid the foundations of Computer Science, Bernhardt elegantly explains those foundations. Highly recommend
Dec 26, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: computer-science
3 stars
because i wanted more in depth info on hid life not what i learn in class. but this would be a great review
Gowtham Kaki
Dec 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A remarkably lucid (yet sufficiently rigorous) commentary on Turing’s landmark 1936 paper that introduced computing machines. This book helped me finally internalize Turing’s insights.
Jul 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: computer-science
Wonderful intro to Turing’s On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem.
Cameron E. Wild
Sep 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If you ever wanted to have in insight into pure genius, this book is for you.
Hassaan Naeem
Mar 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Although a difficult read to parse at times, given the multitude of mathematical concepts and proofs, well worth the read!
Jan 16, 2022 added it
Very enjoyable for the layperson!
Nick Ziegler
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book contains many wonderful proofs; for example, proof that I will never understand computer science or most mathematics beyond high school level. However, I was grateful for this brief and generous opportunity to stand on the threshold of the subjects and, if not understand, at least gain some familiarity. The prose reads like it was written by a mathematician, which it was; and the historical portions are not very good, by history standards. But the unadorned and telegraphic style is wha ...more
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