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-   -   [SUMMARY] The Turing Machine (#162) (http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/t850349-summary-the-turing-machine-162-a.html)

Matthew Moss 05-15-2008 06:26 PM

[SUMMARY] The Turing Machine (#162)
 
While waiting for 48 hours to pass, several examples of Turing Machine
code were sent in, including one example of over 1,500 lines,
generated by code. Most others were simpler, handcrafted rulesets and
tapes, dealing primarily with the limited input set of binary numbers.
This kept code size smaller and easier to understand.

A thought occurred to me that we might make an Extended Turing
Machine, so we would no longer have to eliminate very repetitive state
information. To take a small portion of one example:

...
mark_start v mark_start v L
mark_start w mark_start w L
mark_start x mark_start x L
mark_start y mark_start y L
mark_start z mark_start z L
mark_start _ mark_end S R
mark_end a mark_end a R
mark_end b mark_end b R
mark_end c mark_end c R
mark_end d mark_end d R
...

Using a regular expression for the second argument with an implicit
grouping, we could write our Turing Machines more easily.

...
mark_start [a-z] mark_start $1 L
mark_start _ mark_end S R
mark_end [a-z] mark_end $1 R
...

I don't doubt that there are other efficiencies we could impose on the
simple Turing Machine language, to create a better language, a better
Turing Machine. Yet, I think the point here is simply to explore the
Turing Machine for what it is, rather than turn it into a higher level
language. If we want that, we might as well stick with Ruby. (Still, a
generator to help us write lengthy Turing Machine programs, such as
was used for the 1500 line example, would be interesting.)

I'm going to look at Alpha Chen's solution this week; it's short and
simple, yet managed to surprise me a little. We start with the last
line: the "main" of the solution.

Turing.new(ARGV.shift, ARGV.shift).run if __FILE__ == $0

Chen creates a new Turing Machine, passing in the first two command
line arguments, but only if `__FILE__` (a constant containing the
filename) is equal to `$0`. This is a typical check made to see if we
are loading this module in an attempt to execute it, rather than
loading it from another module via the `require` mechanism.

Now to initializing the Turing class.

def initialize(file, tape=nil)
@tape = Hash.new('_')
@head = 0

# initialize tape
tape.split(//).each_with_index {|c,i| @tape[i] = c } if tape

# read program instructions
@program = Hash.new
File.open(file).each_line do |line|
line.gsub!(/#.*/, '') # remove comments
next if line =~ /^\s*$/ # skip blank lines

line = line.split(/\s+/)
@state = line[0] if @state.nil?
@program[line[0..1]] = line[2..4]
end
end

The initialization of `@tape` as a Hash I missed the first time
around. And it may seem strange to use a Hash to represent a tape,
since Array would seem the proper fit. Still, the use of Hash here is
clever to simplify other code later. It might not be a general purpose
trick; still, we're implementing a Turing Machine here, which is
hardly a critical application.

Initializing `@tape` is slightly more complex because of this. The
provided tape, if not nil, is broken into an array of characters by
use of `split(//)`, but this must then be iterated over and each
character inserted into the hash.

Reading the program rules is pretty simple. As each line is read in,
comments are first removed, and then blank lines are skipped via:

next if line =~ /^\s*$/

This regular expression matches the beginning of the line with `^`,
then end of the line with `$`, and any amount of whitespace with
`\s*`. If a blank line is found, `next` starts the next iteration of
the loop.

After the line is split into words, the program is stored in the
`@program` hash with this:

@program[line[0..1]] = line[2..4]

Chen's program hash is keyed by two elements: the current machine
state and the symbol under the machine head. These two items form a
more complete state of the machine and keying the hash by this
combined state makes for simple code later. To the hash, for that key,
is inserted the rest of the rule.

Running the machine in Chen's code is done as follows:

def run
while next_state = @program[[@state, @tape[@head]]]
@state, @tape[@head], dir = next_state
@head += (dir == 'R') ? 1 : -1
end

puts @tape.sort.map {|_,v| v}.join.gsub(/^_*|_*$/, '')
end

As mentioned above, looking up the next state requires keying into the
program with two pieces of information: the current state and the
symbol under the tape's head. If no entry can be found in the program,
`next_state` will be nil and the loop will end.

Otherwise, `next_state` is broken down into its three parts and
assigned to the appropriate portions of the Turing Machine. The
direction is used to update `@head`, either forward or backward one
cell. This is where the use of `@tape` as a Hash, rather than an
Array, simplifies the code. Chen no longer needs to check Array
boundaries, to see if the tape needs to be extended to either the left
or the right. Introducing a new "index" to `@tape` simply allocates
another Hash entry.

After the loop exits, the contents of the tape need to be output.
Because `@tape` is a hash, there is a temptation to call `Hash#values`
to get the content, but such is to be avoided, as I don't believe Ruby
guarantees the order of the values. To get the values out in order
along the tape, Chen uses `Hash#sort` with no block, which will sort
key-value pairs Since the keys are first in each of those pairs, and
the keys are the indices of the tape, the values will be sorted
correctly.

`map` is used to remove the keys and keep only the values, and `join`
binds them back together into a single string. The final bit is a
substitution attempting to strip off any external blanks, so only the
"useful" content of the tape is displayed. Chen's regular expression
(slightly corrected in the code shown above), removes all blanks
immediately after the start of the line _or_ immediately preceding the
end of the line.



Tomorrow, we'll do some simple spam prevention...

--
Matthew Moss <matthew.moss@gmail.com>


Alpha Chen 05-15-2008 09:58 PM

Re: The Turing Machine (#162)
 
Thanks for the writeup!

But a small nitpick... =)

On May 15, 11:26*am, Matthew Moss <matthew.m...@gmail.com> wrote:
> * * * puts @tape.sort.map {|_,v| v}.join.gsub(/^_*|_*$/, '')
>
> "useful" content of the tape is displayed. Chen's regular expression
> (slightly corrected in the code shown above), removes all blanks
> immediately after the start of the line _or_ immediately preceding the
> end of the line.


Shouldn't the regex return "a" instead of "a_b" for "_a_b_"?

Matthew Moss 05-15-2008 11:08 PM

Re: The Turing Machine (#162)
 
> Shouldn't the regex return "a" instead of "a_b" for "_a_b_"?

No... the intent was that blanks be removed from the ends, but
everything else retained.


Alpha Chen 05-15-2008 11:23 PM

Re: The Turing Machine (#162)
 
On May 15, 4:08*pm, Matthew Moss <matthew.m...@gmail.com> wrote:
> > Shouldn't the regex return "a" instead of "a_b" for "_a_b_"?

>
> No... the intent was that blanks be removed from the ends, but
> everything else retained.


Oops, my mistake! Goes to show how well I can read the spec...

Robert Dober 05-16-2008 07:15 PM

Re: The Turing Machine (#162)
 
Great Quiz, I was offline but solved it anyway!
Cheers
Robert


--
http://ruby-smalltalk.blogspot.com/

---
Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.
Ludwig Wittgenstein



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