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Alan Turing


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Alan Turing was a Cambridge mathematician who published a paper in 1936 âOn Computable numbersâ which was the theoretical basis for the computer that we use today. Aided by Gordon Welchman he designed the Bombe to speed up the code braking process. This was a more sophisticated version of the Bomba produced by the Poles. He is recognised today as a Hero, Great Mathematician, Philospher, Code-breaker, Visionary and the Founder of Computer Science.

Read about the life of a hero:

23rd June 1912:
- Alan Mathison Turing was born in Paddington, London, in a nursing home.

- He was from an middle class family and was the second child of Julius Mathison and Ethel Sara Turing. He had an elder brother John.

1926 - 1931:
- At the age of 14, Alan attended a public school, the Sherbourne school, where he followed a traditional curriculum.

- At the age of 16, he discovered the works of the scientist Einstein.

1931 â 1934:
- Alan Turing attended Kings College, Cambridge, after failing to win a scholarship of his first choice; Trinity College, Cambridge.

- He graduated in 1934, with a distinction in Maths.

- He was elected a fellow of Kings College, following his dissertation on Central Limit Theorem.

28th May 1936:
- Alan Turing wrote his first paper "On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem". In it he provided a definition of computation, which is believed to be the foundation of modern computer science.

1937 - 1938:
- He travelled to America to study at Princeton University under the American logician; Alonzo Church, who specialised in more advanced work in Logic and Mathematics.

- Alan Turing received his PhD from Princeton in 1938 and then returned to Britain where he joined the war effort.

1939 â 1945:
- Alan worked on mastering the German enciphering machine âEnigmaâ at Bletchley Park in Milton Keynes. Bletchley Park was the wartime Communications Headquarters for Britain. Turing became very important after making a great contribution to the decryption of the Enigma and the Lorenz SZ 40/42.

- He was appointed as the head of âhut 8â for a time. Hut 8 was the section responsible for reading German naval signals. It was during this period that Alan Turing invented a statistical technique named âBanburismusâ which would eventually enable him to break the Naval Enigma.

- Turing proposed marriage to his co-worker Joan Clarke in the Spring of 1941, but unfortunately by the summer of 1941, there engagement had been broken off.

- In November 1942, Turing travelled to the United States where he worked on Naval Enigma with Naval cryptanalysts.

- In March 1943, Alan returned to Bletchley Park where he became a consultant for cryptanalysis. His achievements were shrouded in secrecy.

- Alan Turing was awarded an OBE for his wartime services in 1945.

- He was a powerful marathon runner and nearly qualified for the British Olympic team in 1948.

1948 - 1950:
- Alan Turing worked on the design of ACE (Automatic Computing Engine) at the National Physical Laboratory between the years of 1945 - 1947.

- On the 19th February 1946, he wrote a paper which was the first, in Britain, of a stored program computer.

- During this time, Alan Turing moved to Manchester University to pioneer development of the computer and began writing his second paper; âComputing Machinery and Intelligenceâ

- In 1949, at Manchester University he was appointed deputy director of the Computing laboratory.

- In 1950, Turing wrote; âComputer Machinery and Intelligenceâ . This paper discussed the theory of artificial intelligence and introduced an experiment, now known as the âTuring testâ.

1952 - 1954:
- The last couple of years before his death, Alan Turing concentrated on Morphogenesis and published a paper in 1952 named âThe chemical basis of Morphogenesisâ.

7th June 1954:
- Turing died of cyanide poisoning and was found by his cleaner the next day.

- It is believed he ate an apple laced with cyanide and this was confirmed by a post mortem examination.

- There were many who believe that Alan was assassinated or died accidentally, however the coroner recorded a verdict of suicide.

- Alan Turing was cremated on 12th June 1954 at Woking Crematorium.

30th Mar 2008

History, ICT, Mathematics, Science

Key Stages:
Key Stage 2, Key Stage 3, Key Stage 4

WWII, Station X, Code, Cypher, Enigma, Bombe, Turing, Computer Science

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