Abstract: The term ‘Halting Problem’ arguably refers to computer science’s most celebrated impossibility result and to the core notion underlying the language-theoretic approach to security. Computer professionals often ignore the Halting Problem however. In retrospect, this is not too surprising given that several advocates of computability theory implicitly follow Christopher Strachey’s alleged 1965 proof of his Halting Problem (which is about executable – i.e., hackable – programs) rather than Martin Davis’s correct 1958 version or his 1994 account (each of which is solely about mathematical objects). For the sake of conceptual clarity, particularly for researchers pursuing a coherent science of cybersecurity, I will scrutinize Strachey’s 1965 line of reasoning – which is widespread today – both from a charitable, historical angle and from a critical, engineering perspective.
Keywords: Undecidability, halting problem, security, computability theory, Internet of Things
Journal: Computability, vol. Pre-press, no. Pre-press, pp. 1-18, 2021