Turing conference promises unique meeting of minds

24 May 2012
By James Hayes
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Alan Turing

Alan Turing: a distinguished computer scientist who also wrote much-cited papers in other disciplines

Billed as computer science’s biggest ever event, the four-day Alan Turing Centenary Conference on 22-25 June will bring together some of the most prestigious names from an unprecedented range of scientific and technological disciplines to celebrate the renowned mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer visionary.

The A-list speaker line-up includes several Turing Award recipients and IET/BCS Turing Lecture speakers, and includes two free public conferences.

Between 500 and 1,000 paying delegates are expected to attend the event, which will take place at the University of Manchester and Manchester Town Hall, and aims to reflect for the first time the full range of Turing’s genius, says conference organiser Professor Andrei Voronkov, professor of formal methods at University of Manchester’s School of Computer Science, and organiser of the conference.

“The speakers include names that very rarely accept invitations to appear at gatherings like this,” he says. “It will certainly be one of the few occasions that they will all be together for the same purpose.”

Confirmed speakers include physicist Sir Roger Penrose, Turing lecturer Professor Don Knuth, computer scientist Sir Tony Hoare, Google vice president Vint Cerf, software engineer Frederick P Brooks Jr, IBM fellow Dr David Ferrucci, chess champion Garry Kasparov, and University of Manchester’s professor of computer engineering Steve Furber.

Professor Voronkov adds: “Alan Turing is known primarily as pioneering computer scientist, but he was just as distinguished in other disciplines. He authored one of the most cited papers about biology, for instance, which many computer science academics are unaware of; in fact, some of his writings in other disciplines are more highly cited than his computing papers.”

Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov will be speaking about the reconstruction of Turing’s ‘Paper Machine’, an early attempt to get theoretical computers to play chess that was written before computers had been invented, and will explain how a team of modern computer experts reconstructed the Paper Machine to run on a contemporary computer. The system will be available for delegates to pit their chess skills against during the conference.

“Turing’s reputation has grown over the last decade in line with advances in technology – we are still ‘discovering’ more about the full extent of his achievements, and I think that there is still more to discover,” adds Professor Andrei Voronkov. “In the emerging field of program analysis, for example, this seeks to examine the mathematical properties of computer code to identify bugs and security vulnerabilities. We know that Alan Turing was possibly the first person to propose program analysis 60 years ago.”

The Alan Turing Centenary Conference is supported by funding from the John Templeton Foundation, Google, and Artificial Intelligence magazine and is one of a number of events marking the 100th anniversary of Turing’s birth.

Further information about the event can be found at:

www.turing100.manchester.ac.uk

www.theiet.org/turing

www.theiet.org/sectors/information-communications/turing100.cfm

https://sites.google.com/site/turingace2012/

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