Special focus: Alan Turing
Alan Turing was born in London on 23 June 1912. Educated at Sherborne School in Dorset and at King's College, Cambridge, he graduated in 1934 with a degree in Mathematics. Twenty years later, after a short but brilliant career, he died.
At the turn of the millennium, 45 years after his death, Time magazine listed him among the twentieth century's 100 greatest minds, alongside the Wright brothers, Albert Einstein, DNA busters Crick and Watson, and the discoverer of penicillin, Alexander Fleming. Turing's achievements during his short lifetime were legion. Best known as the genius who broke Germany's most secret codes during the war of 1939-45, Turing was also father of the modern computer. Today, all who click to open are familiar with the impact of his ideas. To him we owe the brilliant innovation of storing applications, and the other programs necessary for computers to do our bidding, inside the computer's memory, ready to be opened when we wish.
In addition to his remarkable theoretical and practical contributions to the development of the computer, as well as to the new science of computer programming, Turing was also the first pioneer of the areas of computing now known as Artificial Intelligence and Artificial Life. He also made profound contributions to mathematics and mathematical logic, philosophy, theoretical biology, and the study of the mind.
E&T salutes this mathematical visionary on the centenary of his birth, 23 June 2012, with this special report looking back but more importantly ahead, just as Turing would have expected.
Selected Alan-Turing news
Professor Sir Tony Hoare has proposed an alternative Turing Test that could yield more effective tools for software developers at a prestige conference dedicated to the developer of arguably the famous method for assessing the quality of artificial intelligence.
Changes to intellectual property (IP) law, self-defining data and virtual machines running in the cloud, could be the solutions to information becoming inaccessible over the long term, Vinton Cerf, Internet pioneer and Google’s chief Internet evangelist, explained at the Alan Turing Centenary Conference in Manchester (Saturday 23 June).
A slimmed-down Watson supercomputer is on its way from quiz show winner to a career in medicine, according to David Ferrucci, who led the IBM team that built the machine.
Cryptographers looking for the ultimate security risk building exceedingly complex yet easy to crack ciphers, co-inventor of the RSA technique and Weizmann Institute researcher Adi Shamir told computer scientists at the Alan Turing Centenary Conference in Manchester (Saturday 23 June).
Some aspects of robotics are proving so difficult to achieve that it is time to stop trying to make them self-contained and reassess how the machines could fit into society, a leading researcher has claimed.
Techniques similar to those used by Intel to debug the floating-point unit in its processors are now being applied to models of human cells in an attempt to better understand how they work. The approach has already led to the development of a safer heart defibrillation technique that slashes the energy needed by a factor of ten.
London’s Science Museum today opens a major exhibition celebrating the life and work of Alan Turing to mark the great man’s centenary this month.
A four-day Alan Turing Centenary Conference will be held from 22-25 June.
Alan Turing may well have pursued a career in neuroscience rather than computer science had he lived, said 2012 IET/BCS Turing Lecturer Professor Ray Dolan in his address yesterday evening at IET Savoy Place in London.
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has recommended the Government's new Technology and Innovation Centres (TICs) be named after Alan Turing.
Machines have come the closest yet to demonstrating interactive skills that fool humans that they are dealing with other humans, in a contest at the University of Reading.
Selected Alan-Turing features
Alan Turing's ideas on morphogenesis are helping scientists to develop ways to make complex materials build themselves.
How closely do we need electronics to impersonate the brain before they can pass the Turing Test?
Some commentators think Alan Turing was dyslexic, some say autistic. In any case his life and his genius remain sources of inspiration for engineers and all those who defy discrimination and prejudice.
What relevance does Alan Turing's controversial proposed method for testing a computer system's ability to behave 'intelligently' have in a world of ever-smarter interactive applications, robotic companions and artificial intelligence?
Books published to mark the 100th anniversary of Alan Turing's birth in June this year take different approaches to telling the computing pioneer’s story.
The appearance of World War Two code breaker Alan Turing and steam engine inventor Thomas Newcomen in the Royal Mail's 'Britons of Distinction' series of stamps is not the first philatelic celebration of engineering.
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