von Neumann, J.

The general and logical theory of automata


Their role in mathematics presents an interesting counterpart to certain functional aspects of organization in nature. In comparing living organisms, and, in particular, that most complicated organism, the human central nervous system, with artificial automata, the following limitation should be kept in mind. The simplest way to estimate this degree of complexity is, instead of counting decimal places, to count the number of places that would be required for the same precision in the binary system of notation (base 2 instead of base 10). Such cumulative, repetitive procedures may, for instance, increase the size of the result, that is (and this is the important consideration), increase the significant result, the "signal," re