A “string” is just a sequence of letters or symbols. It could be a word, a sentence, a book, a code, a number, or anything. In computing it is important to be able to recognize patterns in strings. For example if your phone receives a signal from the internet, it needs to know whether it is intended for your web browser or your email reader.

An “automaton” is a machine that decides whether a given string has a certain pattern. Thus an automaton is like a very simple computer, and they can be very fun to build. What kinds of patterns can an automaton detect?

Build your own automaton at automatonsimulator.com! Then check out our handouts.

Handouts from the session