Current Research

The Structures of Computation: Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science, 1950-70 traces the efforts to develop a mathematical model of computation that adequately represents the possibilities and limits of the digital electronic stored-program computer. Beginning with the initial models, the Turing machine and the switching circuit, the book recounts the origins of formal language theory, computational complexity, and formal semantics. It looks beyond the conceptual history to examine the formation of theoretical computer science both as a recognized discipline in its own right and as a field of mathematics. The book thereby constitutes a dual case study of the historical problems of mathematization and of the formation of new scientific disciplines. Some of the themes are explored in my recent articles on history of computing.