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Google And Others Commemorate Alan Turing The Founder of Computer Science

by on23 June 2012 2073 times

turing02If you own a computer, smartphone, watch, oven, microwave, well really almost any modern electronic device you have a host of pioneers that you should be thanking, but one of them Alan Turing should probably be at the top of the list. Turing was a mathematical genius who pioneered what would later become computer logic. Today (June 23) would have been his 100th birthday if he were still alive.

Unfortunately Turning died at the age of 41 in 1954 (his death was officially declared a suicide) after creating computer science and in many ways the beginnings of artificial intelligence. During World War II Turning was one of the researchers that helped to crack the Enigma coding method that the Germans were using. Previously methods of decoding relied on being able to get details of the rotors used in the actual machines. The problem with this method was that the rotors and indicators they used could be and were changed often.

Turning put his exceptional mind to work and developed a method to identify the indicators used by the Germans. Turing also developed a machine called the Bombe that allowed the British (and later the US) that allowed the cryptanalysts to figure some of the daily settings on Enigma machines in use by the German Navy during the war. He was also responsible for many, many other innovations and breakthroughs that helped the war effort.

After the war Turning went to work on developing the first real computer. In 1946 he delivered a paper that showed off the first computer system using a stored program in detail. It was this that formed the beginnings of computer logic and has allowed the world to enjoy some of the technology we have. It is unfortunate that his life was cut short and he was not able to contribute more to the science of computers. However, after his conviction on charges of gross indecency in 1952 (for the "crime" of being homosexual) he was no longer allowed to work on many of the projects he was involved with. The government of the UK were afraid that by being homosexual he was a greater risk of being entraped by foriegn (Soviet) agents. It is sad that this happened as there is no telling what more he would have been able to contibute to the fledgling arena of computer science.
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To commemorate Alan Turning, his life and his work; Google has put up a fun logic cypher that consists of six logic puzzles. Logical minds that complete all six puzzles (the completion of each fills in the color on the letters of the word Google) are greeted with a full page of searches about Turning. The puzzles do get harder as you go though so be warned we made it through three rounds before stopping it was just a ton of fun to go through these and in some small way commemorate a man that helped to usher in the modern world we know now.

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Last modified on 23 June 2012
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