Somewhere, Turing Smiles

How cool is this?

Champaign, Illinois–October 24, 2007–Wolfram Research and Stephen Wolfram
today announced that 20-year-old Alex Smith of Birmingham, UK has won the US
$25,000 Wolfram 2,3 Turing Machine Research Prize.

In his 2002 book A New Kind of Science, Stephen Wolfram hypothesized that a particular abstract
Turing machine might be the simplest system of its type capable of acting as
a universal computer.

In May 2007, the Wolfram 2,3 Turing Machine Research Prize was established to be awarded to the first person or group to prove either that Wolfram’s Turing machine is universal, or that it is not.

Alex Smith was able to demonstrate–with a 40-page proof–that Wolfram’s Turing machine is in fact universal.

This result ends a half-century quest to find the simplest universal Turing machine.

Please also see Stephen’s personal comments on this development. I love it when abstraction predicts reality — and Turing’s legacy deserves this reminder of just how right he was about so many things.

October 24, 2007