Question: Do people today actually understand the contents of Turing's seminal 1936 paper?
Turing's seminal 1936 paper "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem" is considered to be one of the foundational papers of computer science and has had a profound impact on the field. While the paper's concepts and arguments are challenging and require a deep understanding of mathematical logic, computer science, and philosophy, many people today do understand its contents.
The paper introduced the concept of a universal Turing machine, which is a theoretical machine capable of simulating any other computer algorithm. This concept is still used in modern computer science and is the theoretical basis for the design of modern computers.
In addition, Turing's paper provided a rigorous proof of the existence of undecidable problems, such as the halting problem, and showed that there are some problems that are fundamentally unsolvable by any algorithm. This has profound implications for computer science and has led to the development of fields such as complexity theory and computability theory.
While the concepts in Turing's paper can be difficult to grasp, they have been studied and taught extensively in computer science and related fields, and are still relevant today. So, while not everyone may fully understand the contents of Turing's paper, many people do have a solid understanding of its significance and impact on the field of computer science.