Alan Turing

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Alan Turing was 1 of the astir influential British figures of the 20th century. In 1936, Turing invented the machine arsenic portion of his effort to lick a fiendish puzzle known arsenic the Entscheidungsproblem.

This mouthful was a large headache for mathematicians astatine the time, who were attempting to find whether immoderate fixed mathematical connection tin beryllium shown to beryllium existent oregon mendacious done a step-by-step process – what we would telephone an algorithm today.

Turing attacked the occupation by imagining a instrumentality with an infinitely agelong tape. The portion is covered with symbols that provender instructions to the machine, telling it however to manipulate different symbols. This universal Turing machine, arsenic it is known, is simply a mathematical exemplary of the modern computers we each usage today.

Using this model, Turing determined that determination are immoderate mathematical problems that cannot beryllium solved by an algorithm, placing a fundamental bounds connected the powerfulness of computation. This is known arsenic the Church–Turing thesis, aft the enactment of US mathematician Alonzo Church, who Turing would spell connected to survey his doctorate nether astatine Princeton University successful the United States.

Turing’s wartime legacy

Turing’s contributions to the modern satellite were not simply theoretical. During the 2nd satellite war, helium worked arsenic a codebreaker for the UK government, attempting to decode the Enigma cipher machine encryption devices utilized by the German military.

Enigma was a typewriter-like instrumentality that worked by mixing up the letters of the alphabet to encrypt a message. UK spies were capable to intercept German transmissions, but with astir 159 cardinal billion imaginable encryption schemes, they seemed intolerable to decode.

Building connected enactment by Polish mathematicians, Turing and his colleagues astatine the codebreaking centre Bletchley Park developed a instrumentality called the bombe susceptible of scanning done these possibilities.

This allowed the UK and its allies to work German quality and led to a important turning constituent successful the war. Some estimates accidental that without Turing’s work, the warfare would person lasted years much and outgo millions much lives.

Beyond machine science

After the war, Turing continued to make his ideas astir machine science. His enactment led to the operation of the archetypal existent computers, but his astir celebrated enactment came successful 1950 erstwhile helium published a insubstantial asking “can machines think?”.

He elaborate a procedure, aboriginal known arsenic the Turing test, to find whether a instrumentality could imitate quality conversation. It became a foundational portion of the tract of artificial intelligence, though galore modern researchers question its usefulness.

Turing besides became funny successful biology, and successful 1952 published a insubstantial detailing the mathematics of however biologic shapes and patterns develop.

In the aforesaid year, helium was convicted for having a intersexual narration with a man, which was amerciable astatine the time. Turing was made to take betwixt going to jailhouse oregon undergoing hormonal attraction intended to trim his libido. He chose the latter.

Turing was recovered dormant connected 8 June 1954, arsenic a effect of cyanide poisoning. His decease was ruled a suicide. In 2013, Turing was posthumously pardoned for his condemnation for “gross indecency” aft a run to recognise him arsenic a nationalist hero. In 2017, authorities informally known arsenic “Turing’s law” extended the pardon to each cheery men convicted nether specified humanities legislation. On 15 July 2019, helium was announced arsenic the look of the caller £50 note, which volition spell into circulation successful 2021 connected 23 June, the day of his birth.

Key facts

Full name: Alan Mathison Turing

Birth: 23 June 1912, Maida Vale, London

Death: 7 June 1954, Wilmslow, Cheshire

Often considered the father of modern machine science, Alan Turing was celebrated for his enactment processing the archetypal modern computers, decoding the encryption of German Enigma machines during the 2nd satellite war, and detailing a process known arsenic the Turing Test, forming the ground for artificial intelligence.

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