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Commentary on

Edwin Roger Banks, "Information Processing and Transmission in Cellular Automata"

Banks' Ph.D. thesis, 1971 (MIT, Dep't of Mechanical Engineering)

By Ross Rhodes


The 1971 doctoral thesis of Edwin Roger Banks describes a novel way to build an ordinary computer. Instead of creating the computer out of wires and transistors and diodes, Banks creates his machine out of information and rules. This commentary will examine Banks' reasoning and methods, and illustrate the structures he devised.  

Part 1 lays out the background in some detail by describing first the system of logic used by computers, and then the common engineering methods of implementing that logic.  

Part 2 describes the computing concept known as cellular automata, which is the particular medium that Banks is working with.  

Part 3 describes and illustrates the actual methods employed by Banks to build a computer by information transformation according to simple rules.  

Part 4 comments briefly on the significance of the proof.

          Click <here> to read the original.

Part 1
Mathematics, Logic & Computers

1.1  Mechanical computers
1.2  Abstract mathematics
1.3  Boolean logic
1.4  Reducing mathematical relationships to abstract Boolean logic
1.5  Physical implementation of Boolean logic
1.6  Universal computation

Part 2
Cellular Automata Computing

2.1  Basic structure and operation of a CA
2.2  Useful things to do with a CA

Part 3
Banks' Proof of Universality in 2-dimensional, 5-neighborhood CA

3.1  Rules of change
3.2  The wire and signal
3.3  The dead end
3.4  The fan out junction
3.5  The clock
3.6  The logic element
3.7  The NOT gate
3.8  The NOR gate

Part 4

4.1  Manipulation of information by whatever means
4.2  The machine within the machine
4.3  The dependent automaton
4.4  Progress in understanding computers and cellular automata



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  © Copyright 2004 by Ross Rhodes.