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ūüéõūüéõ¬†The Greatest Minds: Alan Turing¬†ūüéõūüéõ

Ends: 08/09/2021@ Midday (12pm) GMT 


Alan Mathison Turing¬†OBE¬†FRS¬†(/ňątj ä…ôr…™Ňč/; 23 June 1912¬†‚Äď 7 June 1954) was an English¬†mathematician,¬†computer scientist,¬†logician,¬†cryptanalyst,¬†philosopher, and¬†theoretical biologist.¬†Turing was highly influential in the development of¬†theoretical computer science, providing a formalisation of the concepts of¬†algorithm¬†and¬†computation¬†with the¬†Turing machine, which can be considered a model of a¬†general-purpose computer. Turing is widely considered to be the father of theoretical computer science and¬†artificial intelligence.

Born in¬†Maida Vale, London, Turing was raised in¬†southern England. He graduated at¬†King's College, Cambridge, with a degree in mathematics. Whilst he was a¬†fellow¬†at Cambridge, he published a proof demonstrating that some purely mathematical yes‚Äďno questions can never be answered by computation and defined a¬†Turing machine, and went on to prove the¬†halting problem¬†for Turing machines is¬†undecidable. In 1938, he obtained his¬†PhD¬†from the¬†Department of Mathematics¬†at¬†Princeton University. During the¬†Second World War, Turing worked for the¬†Government Code and Cypher School¬†(GC&CS) at¬†Bletchley Park, Britain's¬†codebreaking¬†centre that produced¬†Ultra¬†intelligence. For a time he led¬†Hut 8, the section that was responsible for German naval cryptanalysis. Here, he devised a number of techniques for speeding the breaking of German¬†ciphers, including improvements to the pre-war Polish¬†bombe¬†method, an¬†electromechanical¬†machine that could find settings for the¬†Enigma machine. Turing played a crucial role in cracking intercepted coded messages that enabled the Allies to defeat the¬†Axis powers¬†in many crucial engagements, including the¬†Battle of the Atlantic. Official war historian¬†Harry Hinsley¬†estimated that this work shortened the war in Europe by more than two years and saved over 14¬†million lives.

After the war, Turing worked at the¬†National Physical Laboratory, where he designed the¬†Automatic Computing Engine¬†(ACE), one of the first designs for a stored-program computer. In 1948, Turing joined¬†Max Newman's¬†Computing Machine Laboratory, at the¬†Victoria University of Manchester, where he helped develop the¬†Manchester computers and became interested in¬†mathematical biology. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of¬†morphogenesis¬†and predicted¬†oscillating¬†chemical reactions¬†such as the¬†Belousov‚ÄďZhabotinsky reaction, first observed in the 1960s. Despite these accomplishments, he was never fully recognised in his home country during his lifetime because much of his work was covered by the¬†Official Secrets Act.

Turing was prosecuted in 1952 for homosexual acts; the Labouchere Amendment of 1885 had mandated that "gross indecency" was a criminal offence in the UK. He accepted chemical castration treatment, with DES, as an alternative to prison. Turing died in 1954, 16 days before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death as a suicide, but it has been noted that the known evidence is also consistent with accidental poisoning.




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