Machines, minds and computers
Machines, minds and computers

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

4.1.2 Automatic formal systems

As I expect you've guessed, an automatic formal system is simply one that works by itself, without any outside intervention. This does mean that the system requires another component, a referee that enforces the rules. In the case of chess, this means ensuring that players don't move out of turn, setting up the start position correctly, monitoring the legality of moves, and so on. Of course, most chess players will abide by these rules anyway; although at the highest levels of human play, there are referees. Recall the extract from Turing's paper 'Computing machinery and intelligence' – the referee function we're talking about here is exactly what Turing meant by the control unit. Its job is to ensure the system's algorithms are followed correctly.

For automatic formal systems, then, the Principle of Automation applies.

Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has 50 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to University-level study, we offer two introductory routes to our qualifications. You could either choose to start with an Access module, or a module which allows you to count your previous learning towards an Open University qualification. Read our guide on Where to take your learning next for more information.

Not ready for formal University study? Then browse over 1000 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus371