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A.Lewis, Infinite time turing machines
 Journal of Symbolic Logic
"... Abstract. We extend in a natural way the operation of Turing machines to infinite ordinal time, and investigate the resulting supertask theory of computability and decidability on the reals. Every Π1 1 set, for example, is decidable by such machines, and the semidecidable sets form a portion of the ..."
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Abstract. We extend in a natural way the operation of Turing machines to infinite ordinal time, and investigate the resulting supertask theory of computability and decidability on the reals. Every Π1 1 set, for example, is decidable by such machines, and the semidecidable sets form a portion of the ∆1 2 sets. Our oracle concept leads to a notion of relative computability for sets of reals and a rich degree structure, stratified by two natural jump operators. In these days of superfast computers whose speed seems to be increasing without bound, the more philosophical among us are perhaps pushed to wonder: what could we compute with an infinitely fast computer? By proposing a natural model for supertasks—computations with infinitely many steps—we provide in this paper a theoretical foundation on which to answer this question. Our model is simple: we simply extend the Turing machine concept into transfinite ordinal time. The resulting machines can perform infinitely many steps of computation, and go on to more computation after that. But mechanically they work just like Turing machines. In particular, they have the usual Turing machine hardware; there is still the same smooth infinite paper tape and the same mechanical head moving back and forth according to a finite algorithm, with finitely many states. What is new is the definition of the behavior of the machine at limit ordinal times. The resulting computability theory leads to a notion of computation on the reals, concepts of decidability and semidecidability for sets of reals as well as individual reals, two kinds of jumpoperator, and a notion of relative computability using oracles which gives a rich degree structure on both the collection of reals and the collection of sets of reals. But much remains unknown; we hope to stir interest in these ideas, which have been a joy for us to think about.