Tribute to Alan Turing-the Father of Computer Science
Alan Turing Biography
Alan Turing as born on June 23, 1912 to Julius Mathison and Ethel Sara Turing at the Paddington Nursury, London, England.
His father joined the Indian foreign service in Madras, India, along with his wife, Sara.
He and his elder brother, John, did not live in India. They lived in various upper middle class homes of his parent's friends.
Growing up lhis favorite book was Natural Wonders Every Child Should Know (Out of print at Amazon).
His father retired from the Indian Foreign Service in 1926 and he and his wife Sara returned to England.
He was not a good student and his mother worried that he would not be admitted to an English Public School.
He was accepted at Sherborne School.
In 1928 he formed an interlectual friendship with another student at Sherborne School, Christopher Morcom, who tragically died in 1930.
In letters to Marcom's mother, he was interested in mind and matter, especially after readingA. S. Eddington's book The Nature of the Physical World, which led to his interest in quantum-mechanical theory.
He entered King's College, Cambridge in 1931, majoring in mathematics
in 1932, he read the then new work of von Neumann on the logical foundations of quantum mechanics
While at King's College, he relaxed by rowing, running, and later sailing.
He graduated with a distinguished degree in 1934 followed by a Fellowship of King's College in 1935 and a Smith's Prize in 1936 for work on probability theory
He was facinated by the question of Decidability, the Entscheidungsproblem. Could there exist, at least in principle, a definite method or process by which it could be decided whether any given mathematical assertion was provable?
He analysed what could be achieved by a person performing a methodical process, and seizing on the idea of something done 'mechanically', expressed the analysis in terms of a theoretical machine able to perform certain precisely defined elementary operations on symbols on paper tape.
Having made this novel definition of what should count as a 'definite method' — now known as an algorithm.
In 1936, he created the Turing machine.
It uses an infinity long paper tape divided into squares, It reads the tape contining 0's and 1's one square at a time, It can simulate ANY computer algorithm, no matter how complicated it is! All of today's computers follow this model.
He was a superb runner and would have entered the 1948 Olymics, but was prevented because of an injury
In 1936, we find him at Princeton University
In 1936, he wrote ON COMPUTABLE NUMBERS, WITH AN APPLICATION TO THE ENTSCHEIDUNGSPROBLEM
A copy of this paper was recently offerred for sale: $35,000.00. Someone bought an offprint for $256445.86
In 1937 Turing and John von Neumann had their first discussions about computing and what would later be called “artificial intelligence” (AI)
Upon British declaration of war on September 3, 1939, Turing took up full-time work at the wartime cryptanalytic headquarters, Bletchley Park.
Nazi Germany used a cypher machine to encode their message known as the Enigma machine
From late 1940 onwards, the Turing-Welchman Bombe made reading of Nazi Luftwaffe air attack signals routine.
On 1 February 1942, the Atlantic U-boat Enigma machine was given an extra complication and this advantage was suddenly wiped out: nothing could be decoded and catastrophe loomed.
The conjunction of Turing's thoughts with the practicality of large-scale electronic machinery, arising from this technical U-boat Enigma change, came to have momentous consequences.
Working out of Hut 8 at Bletchley Park, in the last stage of the war (for his part in which he was awarded an OBE-Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire ) he planned the embodiment of the Universal Turing Machine in electronic form, or in effect, invented the digital computer.
He worked at the National Physical Laboratory to plan a rival project (USA), to which he was appointed a Senior Principal Scientific Officer. Turing despised his nominal superior J. Womersley, but at least initially this applied mathematician showed a rapid appreciation of the scope of Turing's ideas, and with a eye for acronyms steered Turing's design towards formal approval in early 1946 as the Automatic Computing Engine, or ACE.
In 1947 his Abbreviated Code Instructions marked the beginning of programming languages. But not a single component of the ACE was assembled, and Turing found himself without any influence in the engineering of the project.
During 1947, he spent his time on new study amidst the post-war renaissance of science, not in mathematics or technology but in neurology and physiology. Out of this came a pioneering paper on what would now be called neural nets, written to amplify his earlier suggestions that a sufficiently complex mechanical system could exhibit learning ability - an electronic brain.
Out of this confused era arose, however, the most lucid and far-reaching expression of Turing's philosophy of machine and Mind, the paper Computing Machinery and Intelligence which appeared in the philosophical journal Mind in 1950.
He was elected to Fellowship of the Royal Society in July 1951, for the work done fifteen years before, but equal originality was on the way: his first successful work on The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis was submitted as a paper that November. Long overlooked, it was a founding paper of modern non-linear dynamical theory.
During the final years of his life Turing was working on what would now be called Artificial Life or A-Life
Alan Turing was arrested and came to trial on March 31, 1952, after the police learned of his sexual relationship with a young Manchester man
Rather than go to prison he accepted, for the period of a year, injections of oestrogen intended to neutralise his libido; a chemical castration.
He was found by his cleaner when she came in on June 8, 1954. He had died the day before of cyanide poisoning, a half-eaten apple beside his bed. His mother believed he had accidentally ingested cyanide from his fingers after an amateur chemistry experiment, but it is more credible that he had successfully contrived his death to allow her alone to believe this. The coroner's verdict was suicide.
Many experts believe that his death was an accident brought on by his home experiments in chemistry that involved cyanide. His autopsy revealed that the cyanide was in his lungs, not in his stomach.
This was the despicable and untimely end of the brilliant gay man that saved the world from Nazi Germany