Update 10/26: Some interesting discussions regarding this award are occurring on the FOM list.
Wolfram’s 2,3 Turing Machine Is Universal!
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.
It demonstrates that a remarkably simple system can perform any computation that can be done by any computer.
(On the other hand, does it not also demonstrate that computation is an inherently degenerate process?)
Stephen Wolfram’s comments on the award and the proof on his blog post.