Alan Turing

1912(b)-1954(d). Alan Turing English mathematician, logician and philosopher who made important advancements in the field of computer theory and who contributed important logical analyses of computer processes.

Universal Turing Machine

During WWII, Turing served in the cryptanalytic headquarters at the Government Code and Cypher School at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire, where he was largely responsible for breaking the German Enigma military codes. In 1936, he introduced the Universal Turing Machine, a hypothetical machine used for computability theory proofs. The Universal Turing Machine is regarded as the first digital computer.

The Turing Test

In 1950, Turing introduced the Turing Test to prove his theory that computers eventually would be constructed that would be capable of human thought. His papers on the subject provide a foundation for modern research in artificial intelligence.

In his later years, Turing worked on the application of mathematical theory to biological forms. In 1952 he published the first part of his theoretical study of morphogenesis, the development of pattern and form in living organisms.

An End to a Prolific Career

In an unfortunate end to his prolific career, Turing was arrested in 1952 after British authorities found out he was having a relationship with another man. Under British law, homosexuality was a crime, and it resulted in Turing losing his security clearance to continue his work at Bletchley Park. Rather than face a life in prison, Turing accepted treatment of regular estrogen injections, which were believed to neutralize libido. In 1954, Turing committed suicide by eating a cyanide-laced apple.

5 Facts About Alan Turing

  • Turing published a paper in 1936 that is now recognized as the foundation of computer science. (PDF source).
  • Turing studied mathematics and cryptology at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey.
  • During World War II, Turing was a leading participant in wartime code-breaking.
  • Shortly after World War II, Alan Turing was awarded an Order of the British Empire for his work. (source)
  • On September 09, 2009, a statement on behalf of the British government, posthumously apologized to Turing for prosecuting him as a homosexual. (source)

Recommended Reading: Webopedia’s Who’s Who in Internet and Computer Technology.

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