A random entry from off by one

[Comments] (1) Wed Feb 21 00:03:16 explaining finite automata -- without sounding CrAzY!:

So, while I'll never be a "theory guy," I have really been enjoying my Automata / Complexity class. I think it's fascinating stuff that not only says a lot about computers, but fundamentally says something about how logic and reality function.

Unfortunately, my fascination with the material isn't something I can easily share with anyone, because... where do you even begin? When I try to explain it, why it's interesting, why it's hard, why it's important, I fail miserably, and usually sound like the guy ranting down on the corner with the hand-lettered sandwich board. "It's like tiny little machines, with arrows! Every thing is a tiny machine on a piece of paper with finite memory! 12 Galaxies!"

How would YOU explain Automata to someone who has no idea what they are or why they matter? Bonus points for explaining the concept of state machines without a pen and paper!


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