The first universal computer
The Sepher Yetzirah,
or Book of Creation, is one of the oldest Jewish religious texts to
be found outside the Bible. It was written between the 3rd -6th century.
It elucidates how God permuted and transformed the 22 letters of the
Hebrew Alphabet to form the foundation of his creation and how he combined
these letters to generate the words by which "He depicted all that
was formed and all that would be formed."
The Book of Creation is an interesting attempt to handle complexity.
According to a Jewish legend God actually consulted the Book of Creation during his creation, and the book illustrates that creation proceeded algorithmically. The 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet were placed in a circle and permutated. As the circle oscillated back and forth, the words emerged and were transformed into real objects. The algorithm is illustrated in Chapter 4:16. Stones means letters, and houses are groups of letters.
“Two stones build 2 houses
Three stones build 6 houses
Four stones build 24 houses
Five stones build 120 houses
Six stones build 620 houses
Seven stones build 5040 houses
From here on go out and calculate
that which the mouth cannot speak
and the ear cannot hear”.
Several centuries later Alan Turing defined a universal machine that is able to simulate any other Turing machine. Some computer experts regard our universe as a huge Turing machine. According to Church-Turing thesis it is generally assumed that an algorithm must satisfy the following requirements:
1.The algorithm consists of a finite set of simple and precise instructions that are described with a finite number of symbols.
2.The algorithm will always produce the result in a finite number of steps.
3.The algorithm can in principle be carried out by a human being with only paper and pencil.
4.The execution of the algorithm requires no intelligence of the human being except that which is needed to understand and execute the instructions.
Although Turing’s algorithm seems better than that of the Book of Creation, God did use neither algorithm. He knew that nothing proceeds faster than the speed of light and with these algorithms it may take eons until his creation will be completed. Not that eons should disturb the timeless almighty. He was simply more creative than a Turing machine. He first thought of his creation, he then said “Let there be. . “ and created us in a parallel fashion.