Oracle machine

In complexity theory and computability theory, an oracle machine is an abstract machine used to study decision problems. It can be visualized as a Turing machine with a black box, called an oracle, which is able to solve certain decision problems in a single operation. The problem can be of any complexity class. Even undecidable problems, such as the halting problem, can be used.

An oracle machine can be conceived as a Turing machine connected to an oracle. The oracle, in this context, is an entity capable of solving some problem, which for example may be a decision problem or a function problem. The problem does not have to be computable; the oracle is not assumed to be a Turing machine or computer program. The oracle is simply a "black box" that is able to produce a solution for any instance of a given computational problem:

An oracle machine can perform all of the usual operations of a Turing machine, and can also query the oracle to obtain a solution to any instance of the computational problem for that oracle. For example, if the problem is a decision problem for a set A of natural numbers, the oracle machine supplies the oracle with a natural number, and the oracle responds with "yes" or "no" stating whether that number is an element of A.

There are many equivalent definitions of oracle Turing machines, as discussed below. The one presented here is from van Melkebeek (2000:43).

An oracle machine, like a Turing machine, includes:

In addition to these components, an oracle machine also includes:

This page was last edited on 8 January 2018, at 15:28.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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