# finite state machine

A model of a computational system, consisting of a set of states (including a start state), an alphabet of symbols that serves as a set of possible inputs to the machine, and a transition function that maps each state to another state (or to itself) for any given input symbol. The machine operates by being fed a string of symbols, and moves through a series of states. The study of the computational power of finite state machines and other related machines is important in computer science and linguistics. The computational core of a Turing machine is a finite state machine. Also called finite state automaton

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
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