Alan Turing

Did you know that The National Cycling Centre is off a road named after one of Manchester’s most notable citizens? Alan Mathison Turing, OBE, FRS?

1954 turing

2012 marks 100 years since Turings birth and there are events around the world to celebrate the occasion. Turing was an English mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst, and computer scientist. Highly influential in the development of computer science, he provided a formalisation of the concepts of "algorithm" and "computation" with the Turing machine, which played a significant role in the creation of the modern computer. He is widely considered to be the father of computer science and artificial intelligence. During the Second World War, he worked for the Government Code and Cypher School (GCCS) at Bletchley Park, Britain's codebreaking centre where he devised a number of techniques for breaking German ciphers, including the method of the bombe, an electromechanical machine that could find settings for the Enigma machine.After the war Turing worked at the National Physical Laboratory, where he created one of the first designs for a stored-program computer, the ACE.

In 1948 Turing joined Max Newman's Computing Laboratory at Manchester University, where he assisted in the development of the Manchester computers and became interested in mathematical biology. He wrote a paper on the chemical basis of morphogenesis, and he predicted oscillating chemical reactions such as the Belousov–Zhabotinsky reaction, which were first observed in the 1960s.Turing worked from 1952 until his death in 1954 on mathematical biology, specifically morphogenesis. He published one paper on the subject called The Chemical Basis of Morphogenesis in 1952, putting forth the Turing hypothesis of pattern formation. His central interest in the field was understanding Fibonacci phyllotaxis, the existence of Fibonacci numbers in plant structures. He used reaction–diffusion equations which are central to the field of pattern formation. Later papers went unpublished until 1992 when Collected Works of A.M. Turing was published. His contribution is considered a seminal piece of work in this field.

Turing Memorial in Manchesters Sackville ParkHis life took a drastic turn for the worst in 1952. Turin was a homosexual, and this resulted in a criminal prosecution, as such acts were still illegal in the United Kingdom. He accepted treatment with chemicals as an alternative to prison. He died in 1954, just over two weeks before his 42nd birthday, from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined it was suicide; his mother and some others believed his death was accidental.

On 10 September 2009, following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British government for the way in which Turing was treated after the war. He announced “Thousands of people have come together to demand justice for Alan Turing and recognition of the appalling way he was treated. While Turing was dealt with under the law of the time and we can't put the clock back, his treatment was of course utterly unfair and I am pleased to have the chance to say how deeply sorry I and we all are for what happened to him ... So on behalf of the British government, and all those who live freely thanks to Alan's work I am very proud to say: we're sorry, you deserved so much better.

”Turing's work has also recently been tributed by Google, who provided $100,000 to secure the purchase of key papers on 'computable numbers' The work of Turing and others was central to the foundation of algorithms that allow Google's search engine technology to function. "I don't think it's an exaggeration" claims Googles head of external relations in Europe, Peter Barron "to say that without Alan Turing, Google in the form we know it would not exist'.

To mark the 100th anniversary of Turing's birth, the Turing Centenary Advisory Committee (TCAC) is coordinating the Alan Turing Year, a year-long programme of events around the world honouring Turing's life and achievements. The TCAC working with the University of Manchester faculty members and a broad spectrum of people from Cambridge University and Bletchley Park, is chaired by S. Barry Cooper, with Alan Turing's nephew Sir John Dermot Turing acting as TCAC Honorary President. Events are scheduled in many countries around the world including the USA, Brazil, China, Czech Republic, the Philippines, New Zealand, Israel, Spain, Switzerland, Norway, Italy, Portugal and Germany. The keystone events will be a three-day conference in Manchester, UK in June examining Turing's mathematical and code-breaking achievements, and a Turing Centenary Conference in Cambridge organised by King's College, Cambridge and the association Computability in Europe.

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