Alan Turing (The Great)... a short history lesson...
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Thread: Alan Turing (The Great)... a short history lesson...

  1. #1
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    Alan Turing (The Great)... a short history lesson...

    Hey All,

    While I was writting my tutorial on the Turing Programming language, many asked if it had any relation to Alan Turing, AI or Enigma Encryption. The answer is no. The only relation was that the language might have been named in his honor.

    However, while I was searching for info on Turing language, I came accross loads of information on Alan. Since many people here showed interest in the man who made computers famous and now in homes (one of the people responsible, anyways...) I figured I'd write this short history lesson on the guy. He had much to do with computers and for that I honor him with this short essay.

    ---
    Alan Turing (1912-1954 42yrs)

    The movie A Beautiful Mind was based on real-life events, and guess who's life events they were based on? (between 1938-1943 (approx) of Alan Turing's life) This movie was a shortened version of his life, enhanced with some Hollywood dramatics and effects to make it more "interesting and eye catching". Alan Turing is well known and documented as a pioneer for computer science, encryption, enigmas, and AI

    Turing went to school and became a impressive (and reknowned) mathematician. But what began the wheels of history, and placed him within the sands of time, is the whole idea behind the Turing Machine (which is basically the foundation of computer science). The incompleteness of mathematics was proven. The existence of true statements about numbers could not be proved by the formal application of set rules of deduction. Because of this, Turing thought to himself Could there exist, at least in principle, a definite method or process by which it could be decided whether any given mathematical assertion was provable? Turing came up with a great solution. He wrote a paper on On Computable Numbers with an application to the Entscheidungsproblem, which is the concept of the Turing Machine. (Computation and computability, ie: mathematical calculations done by computer to determine wether a number is prime or not)

    Like most people know from the movie (ABM), Turing was used in the war to decipher the encrypted codes by the Germans, with the Cryptanalytic Headquarters. The way to "break the code" was to know how the Germans were using their Enigma. One idea to break the code was the Bomba. Turing turned the Polish Bombe into a more powerful device, with logical deductions of plaintext. (In particular, U-boat codes.... see movie U-571 for example) During this time, Turing took a strong interest in electronics and planned the embodiment of the Universal Turing Machine in electronic form, or in effect, invented the digital computer.

    Later on came the Turing Test, or what most know it as AI (bots so to speak). Turing never got a chance to actually create AI or anything close to it. He did, however, write papers on his theory of how to create AI with a computer, as well as speak to many associations and organizations about his idea (all did not listen).
    Turing believed that computers could learn and modify or change their behaviour. He wanted to create a "brain" which would have neurons that transmit bits (0 or 1). See link for more info Link

    Alan Turing was eventually arrested for being a homosexual. Instead of going to jail, he decided to participate in an experiment where they gave him oestrogen shots (for a year) to neutralize his libido. Later on, (way later) he was found dead by his mother in his bed. He died of cyanide poisoning. His mother thinks it was accidental (believing he had some on his hands from a amateur chemistry experiment) while the autopsy sais suicide.

    Sources
    http://www.turing.org.uk/turing/
    http://cogsci.ucsd.edu/~asaygin/tt/ttest.html
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/turing-machine/
    http://www.alanturing.net/

    Remember:
    Turing Machine = math, algorithms, enigmas
    Turing Test = Artificial Intelligence

    Note: I made this as short as possible. If some info seems garbled or confusing, sorry.

  2. #2
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    The movie A Beautiful Mind was based on real-life events, and guess who's life events they were based on? (between 1938-1943 (approx) of Alan Turing's life) This movie was a shortened version of his life, enhanced with some Hollywood dramatics and effects to make it more "interesting and eye catching".
    Huh, A Beautiful Mind was about the life of Nobel Prize winner John Nash??? Nice post though .
    OpenBSD - The proactively secure operating system.

  3. #3
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    oops... well, it somewhat shadowed the life of Alan Turing as well... my bad...

  4. #4
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    Nice post,

    few realise that Turing and Co at bletchley park had the first working computer (of sorts0 but then destroyed it in the interests of national security!!

    Or babbage made a 'computer' with wooden wheels in it...

    A Beatiful mind was about John nash, and <Great Indignation> there was NO AMERICAN involvement in the capturing of the Enigma machine by the ROYAL NAVY from a german Submarine.

    Nice to see Turing being remembered for the great man he was though.
    Who Cares Wins

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