The Turing Elves Put On Radiohead Masks

Days to Centenary: 214

Turing Elves — to whom I have referred several times on this blog — are those often invisible but near-ubiquitous souls who have no official standing vis a vis Alan Turing, but who nonetheless mount performances, create objects d’art, and otherwise do deeds that honour, commemorate, or even parody the man, his work, and his legacy.  (“Elves” because, like Santa’s Elves, they work unseen offstage and then suddenly brighten everyone’s day by delivering their gifts to the world.)

My hat is off to the Turing Centenary Advisory Committee and all the other official Turing Year folks, who are doing an amazing job — I don’t want to detract in any way from what they’re doing, just to add to it.

The Turing Elves are the DIYers, guerilla theatre artists, and flash mob ghosts of the Turing legacy.  Out of sheer geek love, with a rampant sense of fun and often without even attribution, they enhance the world, each in their own, individual way.

They are people like:

Heck, the original Turing Elf has to have been Andrew Hodges, who is now a member of the Advisory Committe, but long before the Alan Turing Year was dreamt of he published Alan Turing: The Enigma (1983). His book  contributed critically to Turing’s rise from relative obscurity among the general public to something rather better than obscurity today — something bordering on fame, at least as far as awesome mathematicians experience it — and I have to imagine that it was a lonely thing indeed to have been a Turing Elf in those days.

All of which brings us to today’s Elves, the Klein 3 Group, a musical group who recorded a Turing Tune called No Deciding.

They are a band shrouded in mystery — or at least there appears to be little information about them on the net.  The artifact I want to draw to your attention is the YouTube video of No Deciding, which is embedded below, but beyond that there are few clues to their identity, whereabouts, or other output, despite repeated references to their “hit” album OK Computer Science, a riff on the Radiohead album OK Computer.

They have a sound file of No Deciding on SoundCloud, and the page there indicates that they’re from “Richmond, United States,” but doesn’t tell us if that’s the one in Virginia, the one in California, the one in Kentucky, or some other Richmond altogether. The lyrics to No Deciding are included in an academic handout that includes the bandmembers’ names (Sam Cole, Joe Kramer Miller, and David Leibovic), but I have no way of knowing if the list is correct.  (The handout is from a theory of compution course at Oberlin College).  If anyone finds anything more substatial about them, by all means let me know at nas@homoartificialis.com.

Be that as it may, I like the song and maybe you will too, so here it is.  You can find the lyrics below the video.  (I think the lyrics bear some resemblance to the lyrics of The Odds, who are great, though the music is entirely different.)

.

No Deciding

A tape that’s

full up with blank symbols

a 9-tuple that defines you

who knows if you’ll halt?

Q a set of states

and Gamma a set of symbols

Sigma, a subset of Gamma

The tape head

just moves left or right

delta brings us

back and forth with no deciding 3x

halting, problem,

this is my final state

my final configuration

back and forth with no deciding 3x

such a pretty proof of

such a pretty theorem

back and forth with no deciding 3x

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One Response to The Turing Elves Put On Radiohead Masks

  1. Pingback: New Portrait of Alan Turing | The Turing Centenary

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