Automaton facts for kids
An automaton; plural: automata or automatons) is a selfoperating machine, or a machine or control mechanism designed to automatically follow a predetermined sequence of operations, or respond to predetermined instructions. Some automata, such as bellstrikers in mechanical clocks, are designed to give the illusion to the casual observer that they are operating under their own power.
Problems
Like in real life, there are machines that are too complex to understand. The mathematician and computer scientists therefore ask themselves if a certain automaton is minimal. If it is not minimal, there must be another automaton with fewer states that can do the same thing. An example of an automaton is the turing machine.
Images for kids

Pinocchio automaton

The book About automata by Hero of Alexandria (1589 edition)

The Antikythera mechanism from 150 to 100 BC was designed to calculate the positions of astronomical objects.

Elephant automaton at Waddesdon Manor

Alexander Pushkin automaton (2010) by Swiss automaton maker François Junod.