Questions tagged [computability]

Questions related to computability theory, a.k.a. recursion theory

1,452 questions
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Why, really, is the Halting Problem so important?

I don't understand why the Halting Problem is so often used to dismiss the possibility of determining whether a program halts. The Wikipedia article correctly explains that a deterministic machine ...
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How can it be decidable whether $\pi$ has some sequence of digits?

We were given the following exercise. Let $\qquad \displaystyle f(n) = \begin{cases} 1 & 0^n \text{ occurs in the decimal representation of } \pi \\ 0 & \text{else}\end{cases}$ ...
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Is there any concrete relation between Gödel's incompleteness theorem, the halting problem and universal Turing machines?

I've always thought vaguely that the answer to the above question was affirmative along the following lines. Gödel's incompleteness theorem and the undecidability of the halting problem both being ...
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Human computing power: Can humans decide the halting problem on Turing Machines?

We know the halting problem (on Turing Machines) is undecidable for Turing Machines. Is there some research into how well the human mind can deal with this problem, possibly aided by Turing Machines ...
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Are there minimum criteria for a programming language being Turing complete?

Does there exist a set of programming language constructs in a programming language in order for it to be considered Turing Complete? From what I can tell from wikipedia, the language needs to ...
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How to show that a function is not computable?

I know that there exist a Turing Machine, if a function is computable. Then how to show that the function is not computable or there aren't any Turing Machine for that. Is there anything like a ...
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Why are some programming languages Turing complete but lack some abilities of other languages?

I came across an odd problem when writing an interpreter that (should) hooks to external programs/functions: Functions in 'C' and 'C++' can't hook variadic functions, e.g. I can't make a function that ...
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Why can humans solve certain “undecidable” problems?

High-order pattern matching is an undecidable problem. That means there is no algorithm that, given an equation a => b, where ...
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Iteration can replace Recursion?

I've been seeing all over stack Overflow, e.g here, here, here, here, here and some others I don't care to mention, that "any program that uses recursion can be converted to a program using only ...
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What are common techniques for reducing problems to each other?

In computability and complexity theory (and maybe other fields), reductions are ubiquitous. There are many kinds, but the principle remains the same: show that one problem $L_1$ is at least as hard as ...
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Is C actually Turing-complete?

I was trying to explain to someone that C is Turing-complete, and realized that I don't actually know if it is, indeed, technically Turing-complete. (C as in the abstract semantics, not as in an ...
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Theoretical machines which are more powerful than Turing machines

Are there any theoretical machines which exceed Turing machines capability in at least some areas?
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Is a push-down automaton with two stacks equivalent to a turing machine?

In this answer it is mentioned A regular language can be recognized by a finite automaton. A context-free language requires a stack, and a context sensitive language requires two stacks (which is ...
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Perplexed by Rice's theorem

Summary: According to Rice's theorem, everything is impossible. And yet, I do this supposedly impossible stuff all the time! Of course, Rice's theorem doesn't simply say "everything is impossible". ...
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What can Idris not do by giving up Turing completeness?

I know that Idris has dependent types but isn't turing complete. What can it not do by giving up Turing completeness, and is this related to having dependent types? I guess this is quite a specific ...
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Can Quantum Computing solve Problems not even a Turing Machine can solve? [duplicate]

In his book "The Fabric of Reality", Penguin Books 1998, p. 218, David Deutsch says that the first quantum computer (built 1989 in the office of Charles Bennet, IBM Reasearch) "became the first ...
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What is the significance of context-sensitive (Type 1) languages?

Seeing that in the Chomsky Hierarchy Type 3 languages can be recognised by a state machine with no external memory (i.e., a finite automaton), Type 2 by a state machine with a single stack (i.e. a ...
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Proof that dead code cannot be detected by compilers

I'm planning to teach a winter course on a varying number of topics, one of which is going to be compilers. Now, I came across this problem while thinking of assignments to give throughout the quarter,...
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NP-Hard problems that are not in NP but decidable

I'm wondering if there is a good example for an easy to understand NP-Hard problem that is not NP-Complete and not undecidable? For example, the halting problem is NP-Hard, not NP-Complete, but is ...
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What are very short programs with unknown halting status?

This 579-bit program in the Binary Lambda Calculus has unknown halting status: ...
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Is there a more intuitive proof of the halting problem's undecidability than diagonalization?

I understand the proof of the undecidability of the halting problem (given for example in Papadimitriou's textbook), based on diagonalization. While the proof is convincing (I understand each step of ...
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Does there exist a Turing complete typed lambda calculus?

Do there exist any Turing complete typed lambda calculi? If so, what are a few examples?
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Why are the total functions not enumerable?

We learned about the concept of enumerations of functions. In practice, they correspond to programming languages. In a passing remark, the professor mentioned that the class of all total functions (i....
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Rice's theorem for non-semantic properties

Rice's theorem tell us that the only semantic properties of Turing Machines (i.e. the properties of the function computed by the machine) that we can decide are the two trivial properties (i.e. always ...
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Church-Turing Thesis and computational power of neural networks

The Church-Turing thesis states that everything that can physically be computed, can be computed on a Turing Machine. The paper "Analog computation via neural networks" (Siegelmannn and Sontag, ...
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What did Turing mean when saying that “machines cannot give rise to surprises” is due to a fallacy?

I encountered below statement by Alan M. Turing here: "The view that machines cannot give rise to surprises is due, I believe, to a fallacy to which philosophers and mathematicians are ...
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Why are there more non-computable functions than computable ones?

I'm currently reading a book in algorithms and complexity. At the moment I'm, reading about computable and non-computable functions, and my book states that there are many more functions that are non-...
6k views

What are the simplest examples of programs that we do not know whether they terminate?

The halting problem states there is no algorithm that will determine if a given program halts. As a consequence, there should be programs about which we can not tell whether they terminate or not. ...
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Are there programs that can 'translate' source code between any two languages?

Are there programs that can 'translate' source code between any two languages (assuming the translator has access to the requisite libraries)? If there are, how do they work (techniques used, ...
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Ratio of decidable problems

Consider decision problems stated in some “reasonable” formal language. Let's say formulae in higher-order Peano arithmetic with one free variable as a frame of reference, but I'm equally interested ...