This coming Saturday would have been the 100th birthday of English mathematician Alan Turing, a man who is regarded by many to be the father of computer science.
To commemorate his centenary year, Jeroen van den Bos and Davy Landman of the Centrum Wiskunde & Informatica built a working LEGO model of the infamous Turing Machine, which was one of his most famous works.
The Turing Machine works by using an infinite strip of tape printed with various different symbols. The tap is fed through the machine which in turn reacts to each symbol working on set of predetermined rules. Turing’s machine is used to demonstrate the logic of computer algorithms and what is capable of being computed.
Although the Turing Machine is an abstract concept, Van Den Bos and Landman created this working model using a LEGO Mindstorms NXT robotics kit. In their model, the long bar represents the tape, because providing an ‘infinite’ amount of LEGO bricks presented a little bit of a problem, they set the machine with the much more accessible number of 32 positions.
Slate.com said: “The Lego sensor reads the position of each switch and uses those bits of information to answer the given math question. It’s an imaginative demonstration of simple computation, and an eye-opening illustration of the ideas that gave rise to today’s complex computers.”
Website: Lego Turing Machine