An automaton (= model of computation = computational model = abstract machine = abstract computer) is a self-operating machine. Some examples include Turing machines, finite-state machines, and neural networks.

Automatons are capable of recognize a formal grammar.


1   Study

Automata theory is a branch of the theory of computation that studies automata.

2   Etymology

The word "automation" is the latinization of the Greek αὐτόματον, automaton, (neuter) "acting of one’s own will". This word was first used by Homer to describe automatic door opening,[2] or automatic movement of wheeled tripods.[3] It is more often used to describe non-electronic moving machines, especially those that have been made to resemble human or animal actions, such as the jacks on old public striking clocks, or the cuckoo and any other animated figures on a cuckoo clock.

3   Form

An automaton consists of:

  1. A set of allowable operations
  2. The respective costs of each operation

4   Classification

5   Properties

The set of all strings that an automata recognizes is called its language.

6   Function

The value of a computational model is that it can make precise predictions that can be compared with human performance.

[1]Massaro 1998

7   Further reading