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Computation: finite and infinite machines

From the Preface (See Front Matter for full Preface)
Man has within a single generation found himself sharing the world with a strange new species: the computers and computerlike machines. Neither history, nor philosophy, nor common sense will tell us how these machines will affect us, for they do not do "work" as did machines of the Industrial Revolution. Instead of dealing with materials or energy, we are told that they handle "control" and "information" and even "intellectual processes." There are very few individuals today who doubt that the computer and its relatives are developing rapidly in capability and complexity, and that these machines are destined to play important (though not as yet fully understood) roles in society's future. Though only some of us deal directly with computers, all of us are falling under the shadow of their evergrowing sphere of influence, and thus we all need to understand their capabilities and their limitations.
It would indeed be reassuring to have a book that categorically and systematically described what all these machines can do and what they cannot do, giving sound theoretical or practical grounds for each judgment. However, although some books have purported to do this, it cannot be done for the following reasons: a) Computerlike devices are utterly unlike anything which science has ever consideredwe still lack the tools necessary to fully analyze, synthesize, or even think about them; and b) The methods discovered so far are effective in certain areas, but are developing much too rapidly to allow a useful interpretation and interpolation of results. The abstract theoryas described in this booktells us in no uncertain terms that the machines' potential range is enormous, and that its theoretical limitations are of the subtlest and most elusive sort. There is no reason to suppose machines have any limitations not shared by man.



View colleagues of Marvin L. Minsky 
Note: OCR errors may be found in this Reference List extracted from the full text article. ACM has opted to expose the complete List rather than only correct and linked references.
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751 Citations
The ACM Computing Classification System (CCS rev.2012)
Title  Computation: finite and infinite machines table of contents 
Pages  334 
Publisher  PrenticeHall, Inc. Upper Saddle River, NJ, USA ©1967 
ISBN  0131655639 
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Chapter 1  Physical machines and their abstract counterparts  
Part I  Finitestate machines  
Chapter 2  Finitestate machines  
Chapter 3  Neural networks. Automata made up of parts  
Chapter 4  The memories of events in finitestate machines  
Part II  Infinite machines  
Chapter 5  Computability, effective procedures, and algorithms. Infinite machines  
Chapter 6  Turing machines  
Chapter 7  Universal turing machines  
Chapter 8  Limitations of effective computability  
Chapter 9  The computable real numbers  
Chapter 10  The relations between turing machines and recursive functions  
Chapter 11  Models similar to digital computers  
Part III  Symbolmanipulation systems and computability  
Chapter 12  The symbolmanipulation systems of post  
Chapter 13  Post's normalform theorem  
Chapter 14  Very simple bases for computability  
Chapter 15  Solutions to selected problems  
Chapter 16  Suggestions for further studies and descriptorindexed bibliography  
Table of special symbols  
Index and glossary 