Someone I know recently enrolled in an introductory computer science course that introduced her to the halting problem. She also recently read Charles Stross's book Halting State, and was curious if that particular title referred to the halting problem.

Does anyone know if that's true, or if not, what "Halting State" refers to?

  • Given that the author is a CS major/ex-programmer, and that the sequel is called "Rule 34", I wouldn't rule out that there's a reference. But so far after 10 mins of intense research couldn't find any proof. Oct 16, 2013 at 23:16
  • BTW, I emailed the author. Let's see if he chooses to disclose the info. Oct 16, 2013 at 23:22
  • 3
    From memory (it's been a few years), the notion mentioned in the title does come up. Not the halting problem (which is the problem of determining whether a program halts), but a halting state of a finite automaton: a state in which the automaton has done its job and stops looking.
    – user56
    Oct 17, 2013 at 1:10

1 Answer 1


I have emailed the author, and while he declined to join the site at the moment, he was gracious enough to provide the answer to be posted:

It was a pun; both a reference to the halting problem, and a nod to the main plot of the book (an attempt to bring a small European state to a screeching halt). Yes, this is public.

  • Charlie does participate on many online sites. I often see him jump into the fray on Metafilter. Nov 28, 2017 at 4:27

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