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By A. K. Dewdney

This selection of A.K. Dewdney's columns from the pages of "Scientific American" and "Algorithm" centres at the 4 easy issues of the digital age: topic computes, topic misbehaves, mathematic concerns and desktops create.

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Extra info for The Tinkertoy Computer and Other Machinations: Computer Recreations from the Pages of Scientific American and Algorithm

Sample text

The output neurons simply add up the signals they receive. These are the two cartesian coordinates desired. 1 of three input neurons instead of two. The third neuron contains no coordi- nate information but provides, instead, a constant value that intermediate neurons may add to their other two inputs. The extra number gives the network an additional degree of freedom to shift signals by a con- stant or to avoid the unpleasant effects of zero inputs. How do you educate a neural net? By giving it a lot of examples.

To strengthen his argument, Penrose wanders into the Chinese room, a peculiar variation of the Turing test invented by philosopher John R. Searle. A human interrogator stands outside a room that only allows the entrance and exit of paper messages. The interrogator types out a story and related questions and sends them into the room. The twist: all messages that go into and out of the room are typed in Chinese characters. To make matters even more bizarre, a person inside the room exe- cutes a program that responds to the story by answering questions about This person exactly replaces the computer hardware.

That its travel. 6 The Apraphulian flip-flop served as a memory element. had the effect of pulling the sliding bar away from the bead, releasing it and playing the output rope into the 0 position. In this case the flip-flop would henceforth "remember" 0. How were such memory elements used in the Apraphulian computer? Ripley and his team were puzzled to discover in the midst of the vast Apraphulian computer complex a large overgrown field nearly a kilometer wide. Buried just below the surface of the field were several thousand rotting flip-flop boxes arranged in rows of eight.

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