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A tribute to Alan Turing

Alan Turing was a highly gifted English mathematician. He was also a code breaker, machine builder, computer science pioneer and logician.

The notion of algorithm comes from his paper describing his concept called the Turing machine. 

The fields of computer science and artificial intelligence owe much to his ideas.

In this illustrated guide to Alan Turing, we will look at Turing’s life and most importantly, the areas of work to which he devoted himself.

Turing Machine 

After studying Hilbert’s decidability problem

Turing came up with the idea of Turing Machines to solve it.

Codebreaking during World War II

During the war, Turing was called away to help with breaking Germany’s Naval Enigma. He, together with many talented colleagues built the first bombes that deciphered secret messages.

Building computers

After the war, Turing went back to what he was really passionate about — building machines. He was involved in projects both in London and Manchester with the design and building of one of the earliest computers. He was one of the few to recognise the significance of using binary digits in computation.

Thinking about machine intelligence

Turing also wondered about thinking machines and published the idea of a Turing Test which now which lives on in the form of the Alexa Prize, Hutter Prize and Loebner Prize for the machines that can behave like humans.

Turing died by apparent suicide on Jun 7, 1954, while being punished for being gay.

He lived a short life and the writings he produced remain relevant even today.

Looking at Turing’s legacy, one might wonder what else he would have accomplished had he lived longer.

Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.

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