Abstract machine


A run of a Turing machine.
Pictoral representation of a Krivine machine.

An abstract machine, also called an abstract computer[citation needed], is a theoretical computer used for defining a model of computation.[1][2] Abstraction of computing processes is used in both the computer science and computer engineering disciplines and usually assumes a discrete time paradigm.[citation needed]

In computer science

A typical abstract machine consists of a definition in terms of input, output, and the set of allowable operations used to turn the former into the latter. The best-known example is the Turing machine.[1][2][verification needed]

More complex definitions create abstract machines with full instruction sets, registers and models of memory.[1] One popular model more similar to real modern machines is the RAM model, which allows random access to indexed memory locations. As the performance difference between different levels of cache memory grows, cache-sensitive models such as the external-memory model and cache-oblivious model are growing in importance.[citation needed]

An abstract machine can also refer to a microprocessor design which has yet to be (or is not intended to be) implemented as hardware. An abstract machine implemented as a software simulation, or for which an interpreter exists, is called a virtual machine.[1]

In the theory of computation, abstract machines are often used in thought experiments regarding computability or to analyze the complexity of algorithms. This application of abstract machines is related to the subject of computational complexity theory.

Abstract machines can also be used to model abstract data types, which can be specified in terms of their operational semantics on an abstract machine. For example, a stack can be specified in terms of operations on an abstract machine with an array of memory. Through the use of abstract machines, it is possible to compute the amount of resources (time, memory, etc.) necessary to perform a particular operation without having to construct a physical system.[citation needed][clarification needed]

In philosophy

In philosophy, Deleuze and Guattari describe abstract machine as a diagram[3][verification needed] and describe an abstract machine as similar to a refrain, as a machine that desires, as a sex generating its own sexuality, and as resistant to representation.[4][verification needed][clarification needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d "abstract machine from FOLDOC". foldoc.org. Retrieved 2021-08-07.
  2. ^ a b Weisstein, Eric W. "Abstract Machine". mathworld.wolfram.com. Retrieved 2021-08-07.
  3. ^ Zepke, Stephen (2014-02-04). Art as Abstract Machine: Ontology and Aesthetics in Deleuze and Guattari. Routledge. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-135-46583-4. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  4. ^ Goodchild, Philip (1996-09-27). Deleuze and Guattari: An Introduction to the Politics of Desire. SAGE. pp. 51–52. ISBN 978-1-84860-967-9. Retrieved 7 August 2021.
  5. ^ D. B. Skillicorn (2005). Foundations of Parallel Programming. Cambridge University Press. p. 18. ISBN 978-0-521-01856-2.

Further reading

  • Peter van Emde Boas, Machine Models and Simulations pp. 3–66, appearing in:
Jan van Leeuwen, ed. "Handbook of Theoretical Computer Science. Volume A: Algorithms and Complexity, The MIT PRESS/Elsevier, 1990. ISBN 0-444-88071-2 (volume A). QA 76.H279 1990.
  • Stephan Diehl, Pieter Hartel and Peter Sestoft, Abstract Machines for Programming Language Implementation, Future Generation Computer Systems, Vol. 16(7), Elsevier, 2000.
  • Werner Kluge (2006). Abstract Computing Machines: A Lambda Calculus Perspective. Springer. ISBN 978-3-540-27359-2.