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When looking to the realm of computing, we find many interfaces that seem "magical" by hiding the complex systems that make them work.

For the purposes of teaching, this approach makes learning how computational models work quite difficult.

In our solution, we join the interface to the inner operations, making the mechanics open and accessible, yet not transforming the original computational process.

By placing Turing's own programming metaphor in an eye-catching yet explanitory visual representation, our interface was inspired by the modernist mantra.

The result is a Four Mode Turing Machine, the Alan™8b.  
Our challenge was to explain a deceptively simple computational environment to a non-specialised audience.

By using a simple graphic language for every element within the interface, we provide individuals with no programming experience a playground in which to explore Turing’s computing machine. At the same time it remains open to experimentation.

The Alan™8b interface strips away the more alienating components of Turing’s experimental rational while explicitly leaving it’s structure intact - a table of rules, a tape, and a head that reads and modifies the tape.

Rather than coming into contact with mathematical notation, users construct rules for the Turing Machine by selecting color blocks, the objective state of the machine and the direction in which the tape should move next. In our interface, an algorithm amounts to a set of rules where variables are entered and a result consistant within the logic occurs.   

The Alan™8b is a multi modal machine that guides the user through the programming experience from a stripped down (single state) tutorial to a fully fledged 6 state machine that enables the more complex programmes written and designed for the turing machine to be played.

Rule > Action
The simplified interface attempts to make immediately clear the relationship between input and output by alignment along axes and relative positioning of interface elements.

The intention is to demonstrate to a user how to compile sets of rules and then run them, then displaying them as a live translation of their instructions and their effect is seen as a directly observed outcome.

Produced for the class “GUI Design and Programming – Turing Turing” with professors: Britta Boland & Walter Aprile

Concept & Execution:
Shawn Bonkowski
Tristam Sparks
Victor Szilagyi

for an enlargement click the thumbnails

Tutorial 4 Rules, 1 State, Run Stop %

Intro 8 Rules, 1 State, Run Stop %

8 Rules, 2 States

Freecreate. 8 Rules, 6 States  
© 2008 Tristam Sparks · Graphic & Experience Design · About · Contact · Sitemap