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The question Is iPhone turing complete? was closed. Should it have been?

For reference, as the question has been heavily edited, the original question was:

This is halfway a joke question, but I would like to know the answer anyway.
Can iPhone be considered turing complete, if I cannot load my code on it without Apple's approval? (if this question is completely off for some reason, I would like to know, too)

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    $\begingroup$ The current question (revision 5) sounds pretty prejudical. The original question made more sense, although it was perhaps naive and the wording was poor. $\endgroup$ – Tsuyoshi Ito Jun 7 '12 at 1:44
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    $\begingroup$ Current version of the question (revision 7) does not even talk about iPhones anymore. The question has been edited beyond recognition. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke Jun 7 '12 at 20:44
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I strongly disagree with the closing of this question. The question shows that the asker is confused about what Turing completeness means. Our proper reaction should not be to dismiss the question, but to clear the misconception.

The comments that some closers left on the question make it look like the question was a trivial one. This is not the case: the notion is quite confusing to beginners. Besides, the trivial (but incomplete) answer is no, and not yes as a commenter implied, so this question is clearly of interest to more than beginners.


The question has now been edited beyond recognition, then salvaged back, and reopened.

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    $\begingroup$ I think you read too much into the question. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jun 6 '12 at 23:33
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    $\begingroup$ The question is a trivial one. It's "no" because no computer is Turing Complete. The so-called "yes" answer does include the statement that is true up the memory bound, which is typically how we thing of computers. Read the comment more carefully. The fact that Apple controls what apps are put on the machine has no influence, especially since there's a TM app. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke Jun 7 '12 at 6:21
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    $\begingroup$ @DaveClarke The question is not a trivial one, because of all the qualifications you put: not Turing complete because of a memory bound, but an idealized device with infinite memory would be, and (getting to the exact question that was asked) Apple's restrictions don't change that, and then discuss models of computability that take access to resources into account. All of this needs an answer. $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 7 '12 at 8:41
  • $\begingroup$ @Dave, I don't think being "trivial" is a reason to close a question. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jun 7 '12 at 19:19
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I quote:

This is halfway a joke question

So it is apparently not a question about Turing completeness, but about the effect forbidding certain code to run has on the power of devices. In this respect, I think the question in its current form is neither a good CS nor a good SE question.

If it were rephrased to focus on the essence (and to get rid of the concrete product) things might look different.

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    $\begingroup$ How do you go from “this is halfway a joke question” from "this is not a question about Turing completeness"? My understanding of "This is halfway a joke question" is that Turing completeness is not really relevant to the day-to-day operation of the iPhone. Would you feel better if we edited out the first sentence, which doesn't really participate in the meaning of the question as relates to computer science? $\endgroup$ – Gilles 'SO- stop being evil' Jun 6 '12 at 23:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Gilles: That sentence sets the tone of the question. I don't see somebody honestly and conciously confused with the notion of Turing completeness write that; in that case the question has to be rephrased. If the OP is unconciously confused, it's still a bad question because we can only guess where the problem is. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Jun 6 '12 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ "general purpose computing" is also CS, if my interpretation is correct this is related to DRM which is part of CS. I think the confusion is common, people might not notice that there is a difference between TM-completeness and general-purpose-computing (this happens in the talk's discussion section I posted). I think an answer can clarify the difference. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jun 6 '12 at 23:48
  • $\begingroup$ youtu.be/HUEvRyemKSg?t=30m38s $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jun 6 '12 at 23:49
  • $\begingroup$ @Kaveh: The original version did say "This is halfway a joke question". Check the revision history. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke Jun 7 '12 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Dave, apologies, I missed the first line. $\endgroup$ – Kaveh Jun 7 '12 at 20:31

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