Time before Time - Was there another civilization before Ours ?

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Closed
Mar 2019
278
Kansas
#81
If it ain't programmable, it ain't a computer.
In a sense it is. You input various pieces of information and the device gives information. Similar to WW2 gunnery computers. You input various information, and the machine would give you a mechanical solution.

Bascially it is a Babbage engine before Babbage engines were a thing.
 
Mar 2018
591
UK
#82
If it ain't programmable, it ain't a computer.
While I sort of agree, there is such a thing as a a "programmable computer", which would be rather oxymoronic is the two words meant the same thing.

Then there's also the question of what programmable is. Does it count if the problem is fixed, but I give different inputs? What exactly is the difference between a problem and an input anyway? Is it the same equation but for a different value of x? What if it's the same equation but you can alter some parameters? In some languages (Wolfram Alpha comes to mind), there is *no* grammatical difference between code and inputs and outputs. You could say it's only a computer if it's Turing complete, but technically no computer with finite memory is Turing complete.

While not quite semantics, the whole definition of these terms is rather woolly. It does make for good pub chat with a philosopher of mathematics if you are that way inclined however.
 
Mar 2019
278
Kansas
#83
While I sort of agree, there is such a thing as a a "programmable computer", which would be rather oxymoronic is the two words meant the same thing.

You could say it's only a computer if it's Turing complete, but technically no computer with finite memory is Turing complete.
On the other hand the word computer was around well before anything vaguely resembling what we think of as a computer today
 
Mar 2018
591
UK
#85
On the other hand the word computer was around well before anything vaguely resembling what we think of as a computer today
True, originally it referred to a person, one who computed things, aka, a mathematician. That's even the definition Turing had in mine originally.
 
Mar 2019
278
Kansas
#86
True, originally it referred to a person, one who computed things, aka, a mathematician. That's even the definition Turing had in mine originally.
I have read a lot of pre-war science fiction and it is interesting that many of the robots referred to in those stories are in fact what we would recognize as a computers. I really can not think of any author in that era that ever used the word computer in the modern sense.
 
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