Turing Alan: biography, photo, work. Contribution to computer science

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Turing Alan: biography, photo, work. Contribution to computer science
Turing Alan: biography, photo, work. Contribution to computer science

Alan Mathison Turing is a world-famous genius scientist, codebreaker, computer science pioneer, a man with an amazing destiny, who had a significant impact on the development of computer technology.

Alan Turing: short biography

Alan Mathison Turing was born in London on June 23, 1912. His father, Julius Turing, was a colonial civil servant in India. There he met and married Alan's mother, Ethel Sarah. Parents permanently lived in India, and children (Alan and John, his older brother) studied in private homes in England, where they received a strict upbringing.

Alan showed his ability to exact sciences once during a picnic. To earn the approval of his father, the boy, through simple deductions, managed to find wild honey. To do this, he traced the lines along which the bees flew, and the direction of their flights. Then, mentally extending these lines, I found their intersection point, where I found a hollow with honey.

Turing Alan

Alan's outstanding ability in exact sciencesmanifested themselves while studying at the prestigious Shernborough School. In 1931, as a mathematical scholar, the young man continued his studies at King's College, Cambridge University. Upon graduation, he defended his dissertation on the central limit theorem of probability, which he rediscovered, not realizing the existence of a similar previous work. In the educational institution, Alan was a member of the Scientific Society of the College, his thesis was awarded a special award. This gave the young man the opportunity to receive a good scholarship and continue self-realization in the field of exact sciences.

Turing Machine

In 1935, the scientist Alan Turing first applied his abilities in the field of mathematical logic and began to conduct research that showed significant results a year later. He introduced the concept of a computable function that can be implemented on the so-called Turing machine. The project of this device had all the basic properties of modern models (step-by-step method of action, memory, program control) and was the prototype of digital computers invented ten years later. In 1936, the mathematician Alan Turing moved to America and got a job as a curator at Princeton University, in 1938 he received a Ph.D. and returned to Cambridge, having refused the offer of the mathematician John von Neumann to remain in this educational institution as an assistant.

alan turing biography

British Operation Ultra

In the same period, Britain announced the launch of Operation Ultra, the purpose of which was to listenconversations of German pilots and their transcript. This issue was de alt with by the London-based department of the Government School of Codes and Ciphers (the Main Cryptographic Unit of British Intelligence), which, due to the threat of a fascist attack, was urgently taken to Bletchley Park, located in the center of England.

Today it houses a museum of coders and computers. It was in this secret place that intelligence intercepted by receiving stations arrived daily; the number of coded messages was measured in thousands of units. For each incoming text, the radio frequency, date, time of interception, and preamble were recorded. The latter contained the network identifier, the call sign of the receiving station and the sender, the time the messages were sent.

Winston Churchill - Prime Minister of Great Britain - called Bletchy Park his goose that lays golden eggs. The project manager was Alistair Denniston, a veteran military intelligence officer. In the staff of cryptanalysts, he recruited not career intelligence officers, but specialists of the widest profile: mathematicians, linguists, chess players, Egyptologists, champions in solving crossword puzzles. The talented mathematician Alan Turing also got into such a diverse company.

Turing vs Enigma

Turing's department was assigned a specific task: working with ciphertexts generated by the Enigma device, a machine patented in Holland in 1917 and originally designed to protect banking transactions. It was these models that the Wehrmacht actively used to transmit radiograms in operations carried out by the sea.fleet and aviation. Enigma ciphers by the beginning of World War II were the strongest on the planet. It was even considered almost impossible to hack them.

alan turing contributions to computer science

To understand the encoded text, it was necessary to acquire the same machine, know its initial settings, close the letters in a certain way in the communication panel, and run it all in the opposite direction. At the same time, it was worth bearing in mind that the principles of coding and keys changed once a day. Wehrmacht cryptographers tried to complicate the cryptanalysis itself with transmission procedures as much as possible: the length of messages did not exceed 250 characters, and they were transmitted in groups of 3-5 letters.

The hard work of cryptographers under the leadership of Turing was crowned with success: a device was created that could decrypt Enigma signals. In addition to all sorts of mathematical tricks, the same stereotypical phrases with which the Germans communicated, as well as any repetitive texts, were used as clues. If the hints were not enough, then the enemy was provoked by them. For example, they defiantly mined a certain section of the sea, and then listened to the statements of the Germans on this matter.

Alan Turing's success

As a result of painstaking work in 1940, Alan Turing's cryptanalytic machine "Bomb" was created, which is a huge cabinet (weight - one ton, front panel - 2 x 3 meters, 36 groups of rotors on it). The use of this device required special skills and directly depended on qualifications.personnel serving it. More than two hundred of these machines were eventually installed in Bletchley Park, which made it possible to decrypt about 2-3 thousand messages a day.

Turing Alan was delighted with his work and the results achieved. He was only annoyed by the local authorities and cut budgets. Fortunately, after a series of official angry memos, Winston Churchill took control of the project, increasing its funding. Enigma and other German cipher machines were hacked, giving the Allies the opportunity to keep abreast of the uninterrupted flow of valuable intelligence.

alan turing car

The Germans did not know about the existence of the "Bomb" for more than a year, and after discovering the information leak, they made great efforts to make the ciphers as complicated as possible.

However, this did not frighten Turing: he easily coped with the new problem, and after a month and a half the British gained access to enemy information.

The absolute reliability of the cipher during the war years did not raise any doubts among the Germans, who until the very end were looking for the reasons for the leakage of valuable information anywhere, but not in Enigma. The discovery of the Enigma code radically changed the course of World War II. Valuable information helped not only to secure the British Isles, but also to conduct appropriate preparations for large-scale operations on the continent planned by the German side. The success of the British cryptographers was an important contribution to the victory over Nazism, and Turing Alan himself was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 1946.

The eccentricities of a computer genius

Turing was described by contemporaries as slightly eccentric, not overly charming, rather acrimonious and endlessly hardworking.

  • Being allergic, Turing Alan preferred a gas mask to antihistamines. In it, he went to offices during the flowering period of plants. Perhaps this strangeness was explained by the reluctance to fall under the influence of the side effects of the drug, namely drowsiness.
  • One more thing the mathematician had in relation to his bicycle, whose chain flew off at certain intervals. Turing Alan, not wanting to fix it, counted the revolutions of the pedals, at the right moment got off the bike and adjusted the chain with his hands.
  • A talented scientist attached his own mug to the battery in Bletchley Park so that it would not be stolen.
  • While living in Cambridge, Alan never set the clock in accordance with the exact time signals, he calculated it mentally, fixing the location of a certain star.
  • Once Alan, having learned about the depreciation of the English foot, melted down the coins he had and buried the resulting silver ingot somewhere in the park, after which he completely forgot the place of the hiding place.
  • Turing was a good sportsman. Feeling the need to exercise, he ran a long distance, determining for himself that he excelled in this sport. Then, in record time, he won the 3- and 10-mile distances of his club, and in 1947 he took fifth place in the marathon race.
alan turing story

The eccentricities of Alan Turing, whose merits for Britain are simplyinvaluable, few people were perplexed. Many colleagues recall the excitement and enthusiasm with which the genius of computer science took on any idea that interested him. Turing was looked upon with great respect, as he stood out for his originality of thought and his own intellect. A talented mathematician, having all the makings of a qualified teacher, was able to solve and explain any, even the most unusual problem in an accessible way.

Alan Turing: contributions to computer science

In 1945, Alan refused to work as a lecturer at the University of Cambridge and, on the recommendation of M. Newman, moved to the National Physical Laboratory, where at that time a group was being formed to design and create an ACE - a computer. During the 3 years (from 1945 to 1948) - the period of the group's existence - Turing made the first sketches and made several important proposals for its design.

The scientist handed over the report on ACE to the executive committee of the NFL on March 19, 1946. The accompanying note attached to it stated that the work was based on the EDVAG project. However, the project had a large number of valuable ideas that belonged directly to the English mathematician.

scientist alan turing

The software for the first computer was also written by Alan Turing. Informatics without the painstaking work of this talented scientist, perhaps, would not have reached such a level as it is today. At the same time, the first chess program was written.

In September 1948, Alan Turing, whose biography has been associated with mathematics all his life, transferred to work inUniversity of Manchester. Nominally, he took the position of deputy director of the laboratory of computers, but in reality he was listed in the mathematical department of M. Newman and was responsible for programming.

A cruel joke of fate

The English mathematician, who continued to cooperate with intelligence after the war, was involved in a new task: deciphering Soviet codes. At this point, fate played a cruel joke on Turing. One day his house was robbed. The note left by the thief warned against the extreme undesirability of contacting the police, but the indignant Alan Turing immediately called the station. During the investigation, it turned out that the robber was one of the friends of Alan's lover. In the process of testifying, Turing had to confess to being gay, which in those years was a criminal offense in England.

The high-profile trial of a famous scientist went on for a long time. He was offered either a two-year prison term or hormone therapy to get rid of sexual desire.

alan turing photo

Alan Turing (photo of recent years above) chose the latter. As a result of treatment with the most powerful drugs, which lasted for a year, Turing developed impotence, as well as gynecomastia (breast enlargement). Criminally prosecuted Alan was suspended from secret work. In addition, the British feared that homosexuals could be recruited by Soviet spies. The scientist was not accused of espionage, but was forbidden to discuss his work in Bletchley Park.

Alan's appleTuring

The story of Alan Turing is sad to the core: the mathematical genius was fired from his service and banned from teaching. His reputation was completely ruined. At 41, the young man was thrown overboard from the usual rhythm of life, left without his favorite job, with a broken psyche and ruined he alth. In 1954, Alan Turing, whose biography still excites the minds of many people, was found dead in his own house, and a bitten apple lay on the bedside table near the bed. As it turned out later, it was stuffed with cyanide. So Alan Turing recreated a scene from his favorite fairy tale "Snow White" in 1937. According to some reports, that is why the fruit became the emblem of the world-famous computer company Apple. In addition, the apple is also a biblical symbol of the knowledge of sin.

The official version of the death of a talented mathematician is suicide. Alan's mother believed that the poisoning happened by accident, because Alan always worked carelessly with chemicals. There is a version that Turing deliberately chose this way of leaving life in order to enable his mother not to believe in suicide.

Rehabilitation of an English mathematician

The great mathematician was rehabilitated posthumously. In 2009, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown publicly apologized for the crackdown on the computer genius. In 2013, Turing was officially pardoned for obscenity charges by Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain.

The work of Alan Turing was not only in the development of information technology: at the end of his life, a scientistdevoted himself to biology, namely, he began to develop a chemical theory of morphogenesis, which gave full scope for combining the abilities of an exact mathematician and a gifted philosopher full of original ideas. The first drafts of this theory are described in a preliminary report in 1952 and a report that appeared after the scientist's death.

The most prestigious award in computer science is the Turing Award. It is presented annually by the Association for Computing Machinery. The award, currently $250,000, is sponsored by Google and Intel. The first such important award in 1966 was awarded to Alan Perlis for the creation of compilers.

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