What is Turing’s Comparison between Mechanism and Writing Worth?

  • Jean Lassègue
  • Giuseppe Longo
Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNCS, volume 7318)


In one of the many and fundamental side-remarks made by Turing in his 1950 paper (The Imitation Game paper), an analogy is made between Mechanism and Writing. Turing is aware that his Machine is a writing/re-writing mechanism, but he doesn’t go deeper into the comparison. Striding along the history of writing, we shall hint here at the nature and the role of alphabetic writing in the invention of Turing’s (and today’s) notion of computability. We shall stress that computing is a matter of alphabetic sequence checking and replacement, far away from the physical world, yet related to it once the role of physical measurement is taken into account. Turing Morphogenesis paper, 1952, provides the guidelines for the modern analysis of “continuous dynamics” at the core Turing’s late and innovative approach to bio-physical processes.


Computable Function Combinatory Logic Double Pendulum Lambda Calculus Alphabetic Writing 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jean Lassègue
    • 1
  • Giuseppe Longo
    • 2
  1. 1.Centre de Recherche en Épistémologie Appliquée (CREA)École PolytechniqueParisFrance
  2. 2.Centre International de Recherches en Philosophie, Lettres, Savoirs (CIRPHLES), Département de philosophieÉcole Normale SupérieureParisFrance

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