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indeed so | 354 comments | Create New Account
Comments belong to whoever posts them. Please notify us of inappropriate comments.
indeed so
Authored by: Anonymous on Monday, November 26 2012 @ 01:18 PM EST
The algorithm may be designed to non-terminate but enter a cycle. Think the
early graphic idea/game of 'life' polished up a little.

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

Non-terminating programs
Authored by: IANALitj on Monday, November 26 2012 @ 01:48 PM EST
According to Knuth (a sufficient authority to satisfy me), "An algorithm
must always terminate after a finite number of steps." Donald E. Knuth, The
Art of Computer Programming, Volume 1, Fundamental Algorithms (1968), page 4.

Maybe knowledge or terminology has changed since 1968, but I see the following
as the third and fourth sentences in the Wikipedia article Algorithm:

"More precisely, an algorithm is an effective method expressed as a finite
list of well-defined instructions for calculating a function. Starting from an
initial state and initial input (perhaps empty), the instructions describe a
computation that, when executed, will proceed through a finite number of
well-defined successive states, eventually producing "output" and
terminating at a final ending state." [footnotes omitted]

So I have at least one highly reputed old source and one recent source for my
contention that a program that does not terminate cannot be considered an
algorithm. Can you beat Knuth?

[ Reply to This | Parent | # ]

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