Friday, April 16, 2021

Alan Turing: Father of modern computing

Alan Turing, the founder of Computer Science, a mathematician, philosopher, code-breaker, was an extraordinary visionary of his time. His invention, the Universal Turing Machine laid the foundation for today’s digital computers.

Alan Mathison Turing was on 23 June 1912 in an upper-middle class British family in Paddington, London. At the age of 14, Turing was sent to Sherborne School in Dorset, southern England, a traditional British public school.

Turing went on to study mathematics at King’s College, Cambridge, from 1931 to 1934, graduating with a first-class degree. In his seminal 1936 paper, he proved that there cannot exist any universal algorithmic method of determining truth in mathematics, and that mathematics will always contain undecidable propositions.

From 1936 to 1938, Turing studied under the American mathematician Alonzo Church at Princeton University, obtaining his doctorate in a remarkably short period. After receiving his Ph.D. he returned to Cambridge, and then took a part-time position with the Government Code and Cypher School, a British code-breaking organization.

During the Second World War, Turing worked at Bletchley Park. It was the Britain’s code-breaking center where the brightest minds in the country including Gordon Welchman and Harold Keen collaborating to crack German ciphers.

In 1945, Turing went on to start the design of a stored-program electronic computer called the Automatic Computing Engine – or ACE. The name was in homage to the 19th-century computing pioneer Charles Babbage who proposed large mechanical calculating ‘engines’.

In 1948, Turing joined the Mathematics Department at the University of Manchester. He was appointed the deputy director of the computing laboratory at the university, working on software for the Manchester Mark 1, an early stored program computer. Turing continued to consider more theoretical and abstract ideas, including the concept now known as artificial intelligence, in which he explored whether a machine can think.

On 8 June 1954, Turing was found at home by his cleaner, the day after his death.
Alan Turing: Father of modern computing

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