Alan Turing

Why was Turing Important?

Following the centenary year of his birth,  and the release of the film Imitation Game, Alan Turing’s name has become more familiar to most people. They may not be exactly sure why he is famous – they may have some idea about “cracking codes in the War” or “something to with the first computers”, or even that he was the victim of homophobia, but they have no real idea exactly why he is held in such high regard by computer scientists in particular.

The answer is simple: he invented computer science. He didn’t invent computers, by any means; but he was the first person to talk about – to rigorously define, in mathematical terms – what it means to compute something. And by doing that, he allowed us to scientifically study computation: to work out how to make better, faster computers and programs; to find out what sorts of problems are easy or hard to solve, and why; to work out what can and cannot be computed. He also looked at what computers might be able to do in the future, like a conversation, or understand how a plant grows.

The collection of short essays is based upon an event put on by British Computer Science Mid Wales, in which talks were given describing Turing’s work and how it has influenced computing. These are some of the short articles based in the talks to give you a taste of the science behind the story.

Turing and Computability

Turing at Bletchley 1939-1945

Watching the Daisies Grow: Turing and Biology

Can Computers Think?

 

Beth yw pwysigrwydd Turing?
Yn dilyn canmlwyddiant ei enedigaeth, a rhyddhau’r ffilm The Imitation Game, daeth enw Alan Turing yn fwy cyfarwydd i bob;. Efallai nad ydynt yn hollol sicr paham ei fod yn enwog – er bod syniad o gêl-ddadansoddi yn ystod y rhyfel, neu syniad o waith arloesol ar gyfrifiadureg neu hyd yn oed ymwybyddiaeth ei fod wedi dioddef oherwydd rhagfarn eraill, ond efallai nad oes syniad clir o baham mae’n gymaint o arwr i gyfrifiadurwyr yn arbennig.

Y mae’r ateb yn syml. Efe a ddyfeisiodd cyfrifiadureg. Nid fe ddyfeisiodd y cyfrifiadur cyntaf, ond efe oedd y person cyntaf i ddiffinio, mewn termau mathemategol beth yw ystyr cyfrifo rhywbeth.  A thrwy wneud hynny, caniataodd i ni astudio cyfrifiadureg fel gwyddor; i weithio allan sut i greu cyfrifiaduron a rhaglenni cyflymach a gwell; i ganfod pa fath o broblemau sydd yn hawdd neu yn anodd i’w datrys a phaham; i weithio allan beth ellir a beth na ellir ei gyfrifo. Ystyriodd hefyd beth gallai cyfrifiaduron wneud yn y dyfodol – gweithgareddau megis fel cynnal sgwrs neu ddeall sut mae planhigion yn tyfu.

Y mae’r casgliad hwn yn seiliedig ar ddigwyddiad a drefnwyd gan  gangen Canolbarth Cymru o British Computer Science lle cafwyd cyfres o sgyrsiau am waith Turing a’i ddylanwad. Dyma rai o’r erthyglau er mwyn rhoi rhagflas i chi o’r gwyddoniaeth tu ôl i’r stori.