Does not compute

"Does not compute", and variations of it, is a phrase often uttered by computers, robots, and other artificial intelligences in popular culture. The phrase indicates a type of cognitive dissonance on the part of the machine in question. The expression of the phrase "does not compute" by robots or computers attempting to process emotions, contradictions or paradoxes is frequently satirized in popular culture, often leading to the machine's inaction, malfunction or self-destruction. The phrase was used as a catchphrase by the television show My Living Doll in 1964.[1] It was further popularized in Lost in Space (1965) as a catchphrase often uttered by The Robot character.

The problem of how to hold the result of a computation that is not a number is genuine (for example, 1/0) and represented a problem for early computers that would experience divide-by-zero errors or other mathematical paradoxes that software had not yet been written to deal with, leading to a computer crash. The NaN and related data types were invented to solve this problem.

History and usage

The phrase was often present in stories which carried a theme of the superiority of human emotion over limitations within the logic utilized by machines. Despite computers' superior ability at calculation and information processing, their lack of emotion or randomness made them unable to resolve cognitive dissonance, which they often expressed with the phrase "Does not compute". It was usually the computer's response to information which it had received but could not reconcile with other information it already held to be true. It could also be seen as a depiction of the limited (and thus flawed) nature of a machine's programming; due to its pre-programmed nature, it would be unable to adapt itself to circumstances beyond the scope of its programming, as opposed to humans who could adapt to such unforeseen events.

The phrase was used in the sitcom My Living Doll in which the android protagonist, Rhoda Miller, uttered the phrase regularly when confronted with contradictory information, usually with relation to human behavior. On a few occasions, she said "that does compute," if she actually understood the information.

Perhaps the best known use of the phrase is in the television series Lost in Space where the robot often says, "It does not compute!" to which Dr Smith might reply, "What do you mean it doesn't compute, you ninny?!" or something similar. However, the robot did not shut down or explode; it simply refused to continue working until a more logical command was given.

In some cases, presenting a computer or robot with such a contradiction caused it to violently self-destruct. This occurs in several episodes of the original series of Star Trek (e.g. "I, Mudd", "Requiem for Methuselah", "The Return of the Archons" and "The Changeling"), as well as in the finale to Logan's Run. In the episode of the 1968 television series The Prisoner entitled "The General", Patrick McGoohan causes a supercomputer to explode by feeding it the question "Why?".

Such depictions reflect common perceptions of real computers at the time, which usually lacked friendly user interfaces. Computers often responded to bad input with an error message on the same order of utility as "does not compute", although self-destruction was an unlikely result from bad inputs or insoluble problems fed into the computer. The concept of a "killer poke", however, refers to user input intended to induce hardware damage. (See also "Halt and Catch Fire".)

Although not using the phrase "does not compute", the short story "Liar!" (1941) by Isaac Asimov is a striking early example of cognitive dissonance leading to a robot's self-destruction: that whether it lies, tells the truth or says nothing, it will cause humans injury, so being unable to avoid breaking Asimov's First Law Of Robotics: "A robot may not harm a human being, or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm." This example is a more sophisticated treatment of cognitive dissonance leading to self-destruction than most examples from later television science fiction. Asimov explored the theme of AI cognitive dissonance at length in his robot stories.

In the Doctor Who story "The Green Death", the Doctor attempts to put the computer BOSS, which claims to be infallible, out of action using the liar paradox. BOSS feigns suffering from confusion as he appears to try to resolve the paradox, but has in fact summoned security.

By the 1990s, with the rise of personal computers and the graphical user interface, the public conception of computers became more friendly and sophisticated, and the image of the computer intelligence unable to respond gracefully to unexpected inputs has gradually faded away from fiction, though the phrase did show up in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace as comic relief in 1999. It re-appeared in the CGI series Star Wars: The Clone Wars in an episode on the planet Ryloth, when a number of Twi'Lek characters attacked a robotic general, much to the robots' fatal surprise.

In popular culture

The Star Trek franchise once again used a variation of the phrase in the 2009 film Star Trek, in which the character James T. Kirk used the phrase to goad Spock (a character known for his propensity for logic) to anger, in order to make the latter realize that he was emotionally compromised.

In the film Alien, Captain Dallas (of the Nostromo) uses 'Mother' - the ship's computer - to evaluate the ship's procedures for dealing with the alien, but receives unfruitful responses in greenish letters: "Unable To Compute" and "Available Data Insufficient". Finally, he types in "WHAT ARE MY CHANCES?" The answer returns: "Does Not Compute."[2]

In a Futurama episode, Leela's attempt to thwart Robot Santa with a paradox was stopped by his "paradox-absorbing crumple zones". In addition, the robot character Bender referred to the phrase as an "old robot saying" in "A Taste of Freedom". In "A Fishful of Dollars", Fry asks for anchovies (extinct in the Futurama universe) which eventually makes a chef-robot repeat, "Does not compute," before exploding.

In the Red Dwarf episode, "The Last Day (Red Dwarf)", the android Hudzen is told by Kryten that silicon heaven does not exist. Hudzen, a believer in the android afterlife, cannot reconcile the contradiction and shuts down. Kryten, also an android, is not harmed by this dissonance, as he believes he is simply lying.

On Prince's album 1999, there is a song titled "Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)".

The Simpsons writers often parody this phrase and its implications. In one episode, Homer said he wanted to make a robot repeat the words "It does not compute" until it exploded by giving it illogical commands. In the episode "Trilogy of Error", Lisa's school project, a grammar-fixing robot, explodes after hearing too much bad grammar from the mobsters led by Fat Tony. The robot repeats the phrase "Bad grammar overload!" as a parody of the original phrase. In "Treehouse of Horror XIX", there is the following dialogue:

Destructicus: That does not compute.
Marge: (sternly) Really?
Destructicus: Well, it computes a little.

In The IT crowd episode "The Dinner Party", the phrase is said by Jessica, one of Jen's friends, to Moss.

In an episode of The Sarah Jane Adventures, "Warriors Of Kudlak: Part 2", the computer Mistress responds to the news of peace with "Peace does not compute", as it was only programmed for war situations.

In Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, one computer developed the ability to pose paradoxes to other computers, causing one computer to go in a corner and sit, pondering "does not compute."

The phrase is also the title of a song sung by the robotic vocalist ALT in the arcade game Pop'n Music 20 Fantasia.


  1. ^ Does not compute (Jesse Sheidlower, American Dialect Society mailing list, 2001-09-15) — cites The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang
  2. ^
1999 (Prince album)

1999 is the fifth studio album by American recording artist Prince, and the first to feature his band the Revolution. It was released on October 27, 1982, by Warner Bros. Records.

The album was his first top ten album on the Billboard 200 chart in the United States (peaking at number 9, besting that peak at number 7 after his death in 2016). The title track was a protest against nuclear proliferation and became his first top ten hit in countries outside the United States. 1999 became the fifth best-selling album of 1983 overall. 1999 received widespread acclaim from critics, and was seen as Prince's breakthrough album.

1999 is certified quadruple platinum by the RIAA. According to the Rolling Stone Album Guide, "1999 may be Prince's most influential album: Its synth-and-drum machine-heavy arrangements codified the Minneapolis sound that loomed over mid-'80s R&B and pop, not to mention the next two decades' worth of electro, house, and techno." In 2003, 1999 was ranked 163rd on Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. The album was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008.

Automatic (Prince song)

"Automatic" is a song by American musician Prince from his 1982 album, 1999. It was released as a 7" single only in Australia, with "Something in the Water (Does Not Compute)" as the B-side. Almost six minutes were edited from the album track for its single release.Lyrically, the song had bondage-inspired imagery and a promotional music video directed by Bruce Gowers, who previously directed the "1999" video as well as videos from Queen, Rod Stewart and John Mellencamp, was produced for the song, which features band mates Lisa Coleman and Jill Jones whipping Prince in a simulated S&M session, where he is tied to a bed. The video was not released through conventional outlets (It was only released as a promotional video for dance clubs), possibly due to its risqué content in regard to the aforementioned masochistic whipping, but circulates amongst collectors.

"Automatic" was first played during the 1999 Tour. Later it was a featured number during Prince's 1986 Parade tour. The song was part of a mini-1999 medley consisting of a short instrumental segment of "Lady Cab Driver", "Automatic", and a very brief "D.M.S.R.". The song reappeared in 2002 at some aftershows in a medley with the Graffiti Bridge song "Shake!".

Captain Satellite

Captain Satellite was an afternoon TV program on KTVU-2 in Oakland, California. Like many kids' shows of this period, it took advantage of the interest engendered by science fiction and the early space program. The Captain was played by Bob March, a local TV personality. His signature outfit was a helmet and a dark uniform under a light-colored, triangular vest that had a thunderbolt passing through a globe. The set was a cutaway rocket ship called the Starfinder II that blasted off each day. Guest children would co-pilot under Captain Satellite's supervision. As the ship orbited on auto-pilot, the children would participate in games to win prizes (found in the "Space Locker"), and in live promotions. Old Thirties cartoons like Scrappy and serials would be introduced between breaks, and occasionally there were special appearances, as when The Three Stooges came to visit the Starfinder II.

There were changes in format, but the show ran for a decade. The last episode aired on April 25, 1969. In or about early 1966, “Captain Satellite” announced that the Starfinder-II was being mothballed and the series would get a new “flying saucer” style spaceship. The show had a naming contest and they settled on the name “Laser-II,” rather than the Jupiter-II from “Lost In Space” lore. (It is said that when the new spaceship was named, it was originally called Laser 7, so that the L would touch the top of the 7 creating a lightning bolt. Unfortunately, it seemed to refer to KGO Channel 7 in San Francisco rather than KTVU Channel 2, where the show actually originated, so it was changed to Laser II.) The latter sci-fi show on the CBS network seems to have changed the spaceship format to a flying-saucer type craft. The “Space Locker” had a new entry system – computer punch cards – instead of keys. Three of the five cards inserted into the locker would flash: “need more data” on the screen –– giving the contestant extra attempts to open up the “Space Locker.” The winning card would open the locker, while the losing card would give the answer: “does not compute!” (probably borrowed from the robot in the “Lost In Space” series).

After the show folded, Captain Satellite continued to make guest appearances throughout the San Francisco Bay Area at various events like sci-fi movie openings at theaters and at amusement parks.

Bob March also played cameo or bit roles in Hollywood films. One was as a reporter in the 1968 Steve McQueen movie, Bullitt. Another was as a councilman in the second Dirty Harry film, Magnum Force, starring Clint Eastwood.

March retired in 1995, and lives in Auburn, California.

Condensation algorithm

The condensation algorithm (Conditional Density Propagation) is a computer vision algorithm. The principal application is to detect and track the contour of objects moving in a cluttered environment. Object tracking is one of the more basic and difficult aspects of computer vision and is generally a prerequisite to object recognition. Being able to identify which pixels in an image make up the contour of an object is a non-trivial problem. Condensation is a probabilistic algorithm that attempts to solve this problem.

The algorithm itself is described in detail by Isard and Blake in a publication in the International Journal of Computer Vision in 1998. One of the most interesting facets of the algorithm is that it does not compute on every pixel of the image. Rather, pixels to process are chosen at random, and only a subset of the pixels end up being processed. Multiple hypotheses about what is moving are supported naturally by the probabilistic nature of the approach. The evaluation functions come largely from previous work in the area and include many standard statistical approaches. The original part of this work is the application of particle filter estimation techniques.

The algorithm’s creation was inspired by the inability of Kalman filtering to perform object tracking well in the presence of significant background clutter. The presence of clutter tends to produce probability distributions for the object state which are multi-modal and therefore poorly modeled by the Kalman filter. The Condensation Algorithm in its most general form requires no assumptions about the probability distributions of the object or measurements. is an American humor website founded in 2005 by Jack O’Brien and is currently owned by E. W. Scripps. It is descended from Cracked magazine, which dates back to 1958. In 2007, Cracked had a couple hundred thousand unique users per month and 3 or 4 million page views. In June 2011, it reached 27 million page views, according to comScore. According to O'Brien, the site had about 17 million unique visitors and 300 million page views in February 2012.

De Boor's algorithm

In the mathematical subfield of numerical analysis de Boor's algorithm is a fast and numerically stable algorithm for evaluating spline curves in B-spline form. It is a generalization of de Casteljau's algorithm for Bézier curves. The algorithm was devised by Carl R. de Boor. Simplified, potentially faster variants of the de Boor algorithm have been created but they suffer from comparatively lower stability.

Hit and Run Tour (2014)

The Hit and Run Tour was a concert tour by American recording artist Prince and 3rdeyegirl. The tour consisted of three legs. The first was in the United Kingdom, the second in Europe and the third in North America.

Khufu and Khafre

In cryptography, Khufu and Khafre are two block ciphers designed by Ralph Merkle in 1989 while working at Xerox's Palo Alto Research Center. Along with Snefru, a cryptographic hash function, the ciphers were named after the Egyptian Pharaohs Khufu, Khafre and Sneferu.

Under a voluntary scheme, Xerox submitted Khufu and Khafre to the US National Security Agency (NSA) prior to publication. NSA requested that Xerox not publish the algorithms, citing concerns about national security. Xerox, a large contractor to the US government, complied. However, a reviewer of the paper passed a copy to John Gilmore, who made it available via the sci.crypt newsgroup. It would appear this was against Merkle's wishes. The scheme was subsequently published at the 1990 CRYPTO conference (Merkle, 1990).

Khufu and Khafre were patented by Xerox; issued on March 26, 1991.

Liar! (short story)

"Liar!" is a science fiction short story by American writer Isaac Asimov. It first appeared in the May 1941 issue of Astounding Science Fiction and was reprinted in the collections I, Robot (1950) and The Complete Robot (1982). It was Asimov's third published positronic robot story. Although the word "robot" was introduced to the public by Czech writer Karel Čapek in his 1920 play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), Asimov's story "Liar!" contains the first recorded use of the word "robotics" according to the Oxford English Dictionary. The events of this short story are also mentioned in the novel The Robots of Dawn written by the same author.

Longarm (Transformers)

Longarm is the name to four different fictional characters in the Transformers robot superhero franchise.

Lost in Space

Lost in Space is an American science fiction television series, created and produced by Irwin Allen, which originally aired between 1965 and 1968. The series is loosely based on the 1812 novel The Swiss Family Robinson, and on a comic book published by Gold Key Comics titled The Space Family Robinson. The series follows the adventures of the Robinsons, a pioneering family of space colonists who struggle to survive in the depths of space. The show ran for 83 episodes over three seasons, the first year of which was filmed in black and white.

One Got Fat

One Got Fat is a 1963 American short film about bicycle safety. It is written and directed by The Cowboys author Dale Jennings and narrated by F-Troop and Fractured Fairy Tales star Edward Everett Horton.

Power iteration

In mathematics, power iteration (also known as the power method) is an eigenvalue algorithm: given a diagonalizable matrix , the algorithm will produce a number , which is the greatest (in absolute value) eigenvalue of , and a nonzero vector , the corresponding eigenvector of , such that . The algorithm is also known as the Von Mises iteration.

Power iteration is a very simple algorithm, but it may converge slowly. It does not compute a matrix decomposition, and hence it can be used when is a very large sparse matrix.[clarification needed]

Robot (Lost in Space)

The Class M-3 Model B-9 General Utility Non-Theorizing Environmental Control Robot, known simply as the Robot, is a fictional character in the television series Lost in Space. His full designation was only occasionally mentioned on the show.


Robotropolis is a science-fiction action adventure film written and directed by Christopher Hatton and starring Zoe Naylor, Graham Sibley and Edward Foy.


TI-HI, Ti-High, Tie-High, or Ti by Hi is a term often used in the logistics industry.

It refers to the number of boxes/cartons stored on a layer, or tier, (the TI) and the number of layers high that these will be stacked on the pallet (the HI). It can also be used in reference to the stacking pattern used to load a pallet in order to generate a relatively stable stack.

These measurements will usually be asked for following the Cube (cubic feet) of a Master Carton.

Some manufacturers design and stack boxes/cartons on pallets in non-standard Ti-Hi patterns. This stacking pattern does not compute logically to TI-HI applications. Pallets with non-standard Ti-Hi are unconventional.


Track-via-missile or TVM refers to a missile guidance technique which combines features of semi-active radar homing (SARH) and radio command guidance.

Turing degree

In computer science and mathematical logic the Turing degree (named after Alan Turing) or degree of unsolvability of a set of natural numbers measures the level of algorithmic unsolvability of the set.

With No Human Intervention

With No Human Intervention is the third album by industrial black metal band Aborym. The album's title was coined by former Emperor drummer Bard Eithun, as well as the lyrics for the title track and "Faustian Spirit of the Earth". Carpathian Forest vocalist Nattefrost provides backing vocals on various tracks, as well as lead vocals on "The Alienation of a Blackened Heart".

This is the last Aborym album to feature Attila Csihar as the primary lead vocalist (he returned once more as lead vocalist on the track "Man Bites God" on Generator), as he left the band to re-join Mayhem. Guitarist Set Teitan departed after this album in order to join Dissection.

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